Summer STEM Camp Reaching Minority Students

Caleb Jolibett works on a project at the Houston Community College Minority Male Initiative STEM Academy

Ninth grader Caleb Jolibett is hoping to have an edge over his classmates this coming school year after spending most of the summer honing his math and science skills. “I think I will know a lot more than the kids who stayed home and didn’t take the initiative to learn something new,” said Jolibett, who will be attending Lamar High School in the fall.

Jolibett and more than 100 other HISD students from around the district are spending their summer break at the Houston Community College Minority Male Initiative STEM Academy. This is the fourth year for the summer program, which provides real-life, practical, hands-on learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math for minority students grades 5-12. In addition to building a solid foundation in math and science, the academy works to prevent the “summer slide” in which students get out of the habit of learning and, as a result, begin the new school year at a disadvantage.

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“This program actually increases the students’ knowledge, because they will use the concepts and skills they learn here this coming school year,” said Camp Director and Lovett Elementary teacher Rickey Polidore Jr.

Students enrolled in the program attend class 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. five days a week at the Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy. Throughout the summer, each student is taking four classes in the areas of robotics, green engineering, process science, and mathematics. The curriculum is designed to challenge participants regardless of age.

Although the summer program was originally created to focus on young men, program administrators quickly learned the value of opening up the camp to girls as well

“We don’t want to leave females out, because the number of minority females pursuing STEM careers is proportionately lower than minority males, and we need to work to increase both those statistics,” said Polidore.