The pilot STEM Scholars program is designed to encourage students from under-resourced neighborhoods to pursue secondary-education and careers in STEM fields. The ERC will collaborate with high schools in Northern Illinois to provide students additional education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), opportunities for mentorship from STEM professionals, and information about career options relating to these fields.
Once completed, a subset of students who demonstrate enthusiasm to continue the program will be offered a paid practicum over the summer to further their education and develop and carry out a project that has a positive impact in their neighborhood. The students over the summer will be educated in STEM, energy efficiency, and consumer facing technologies. The students will use what they learn to gain hands-on experience in engineering and educating community members, and will become energy ambassadors among their peers.
This pilot program is built for students to be familiarized with STEM concepts outside of an institutional atmosphere. This will help students build associations of STEM with other aspects of life other than the daily experiences in school. By removing a level of predictability in routine education, an after school program will engage students on a new level. Hands-on learning with positive experiences will create positive associations between STEM and a future career.