Elementary children get jump start on STEM careers in SEEK summer camp

Students work on one of the projects at the SEEK program at Young Women's College Preparatory Academy

Students work on a project at the SEEK program at Young Women's College Preparatory Academy

About 300 elementary students from across the Houston area spent the last few weeks learning how to build renewable energy-based vehicles as part of a concerted effort to increase the number of minority engineers in the future.

The students were part of the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) camp at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, which was organized by the National Society of Black Engineers, with support from Shell and the University of Houston.

The camp, now in its seventh year, hopes to serve as a pipeline for students who wish to focus on engineering or other science, math, and technology-based careers, said Chinedu Ndum, the program’s site director.

“The kids have been receptive,” he said. “They’ve been energetic and excited… it’s really opening up (the children’s) world and showing them that there are options.”

The program is free for students and is expected to continue next summer, and possibly expand to include classes of middle-school students.

“I never knew I would like science this much until I came to this camp,” said Kennede, a soon-to-be fifth-grade student at Oak Forest Elementary School. “My brother plans to be a mechanical engineer, and now I want to be one, too.”

With so many students spending time on the campus for the past three weeks, YWCPA principal Delesa O-Dell-Thomas said she’s seen students not only be exposed to possible STEM careers, but also to what YWCPA could offer them in a secondary education. She’s even had a few students submit applications to attend the girls-only school.

“This gives the students an upper edge,” she said. “What’s been amazing is that the last couple of Fridays, they’ve done a competition… and to see third-grade students articulate the design is simply amazing.”

Learn more about the SEEK program in the video below.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/70368753 width=”600px” height=”330px”]