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STEM programBrad Boerger, regional director, Chevron Energy Solutions, addressed students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program on Wednesday, July 17, at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, 1310 N. 10th St., Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
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STEM programBrad Boerger, regional director, Chevron Energy Solutions, told students in the STEM program July 17 at JFK Recreation Center in Kansas City, Kan., that those who want to go into the science and technology field need to learn how to work well together with others and to develop good working habits. (Staff photo)
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STEM programCharles Jean-Baptiste, right, facilitator of the STEM program at the JFK Center, said the STEM program has already helped students develop reading and writing skills, as well as help them identify their areas of interest for college and careers. (Staff photo)
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STEM programA student asked a question during the STEM program presentation by guest speaker, Brad Boerger, on July 17 at the JFK Recreation Center. (Staff photo)
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STEM programAnthony Marie Johnson, an instructor in the STEM program at JFK Center, listened to the guest speaker’s presentation on July 17. (Staff photo)
While many students are taking the summer off from school, a class at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, 1310 N. 10th St., is using the summer hours to learn about science and math.
The six-week Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program at JFK Center is a grassroots community effort to help stimulate interest in math and science among Kansas City, Kan., students.
On Wednesday, July 17, a guest speaker from the Chevron Energy Solutions office in Overland Park gave a presentation and answered questions about what it takes to get and keep a job in the technology field.
Brad Boerger, regional director, Chevron Energy Solutions, said students need to work well together, as no one person can design and develop a project. He also told the class it was important for the students to develop good working habits such as completing their work on time.
Charles Jean-Baptiste, facilitator of the STEM program at the JFK Center, said some of the program’s speakers cover the human resources aspects of finding and getting a job in the STEM field.
He said it’s important not to wait to study STEM subjects at a later age, but to start now. The program emphasizes the importance of reading, writing and listening, as well as certain social skills, he said. Students also gain speaking and problem-solving skills. The program also covers the basics of the scientific method on a daily basis, he added.
The program meets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday at the Kennedy Recreation Center, and there are about 44 students enrolled from age 8 to age 15, he said. Five educators work with the program.
This summer the STEM program covered environmental topics such as the use of coal to produce electricity, and also covered some food science, and nutrition and health topics.
The STEM program started this year and its only location is at the JFK Center. It is privately funded through donations. One of the persons involved in getting the program off the ground is Mary Ann Flunder, a board trustee at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
While it is early to tell what long-term effect the program will have, there are already short-term results.
“From my observations, this program has already benefited kids,” Jean-Baptiste said. They have been exposed to various aspects of STEM, have heard presentations from professionals in the field, have worked on their reading and writing skills, and they are helping to identify their own interests that they might want to pursue in high school and college, he said.
He’s hoping when the students return to school in the fall, they will have an advantage.
The STEM program at Kennedy Recreation Center involves a classroom component, and the students also have taken field trips to nearby Big Eleven Lake to make scientific observations about the water and the animals in that area, he said. They also took a week-long field trip to Wildwood Camp, an environmental science camp.
The STEM program doesn’t have equipment yet for scientific experiments at the Kennedy Recreation Center,but Jean-Baptiste is hoping that can be added next year.
While there are many extracurricular science programs for kids, this one is somewhat different, he said. This one has no state or federal funding, but is funded through private donations.
It’s the hope of Jean-Baptiste and others involved in the program that it will stimulate interest and scholarship in the STEM field among Wyandotte County youth, helping to create a group of graduates who will be eligible for jobs in the field.
There are intelligent kids in the community, and it makes sense to develop their own youth rather than have a shortage, for example, of nurses, he said.
“We have the kids here, but we need the resources,” Jean-Baptiste said. “We emphasize not waiting to 18 or 21 to start thinking about a career, but to think about it now.
“We want to expose them to as much opportunity as we possibly can,” he said.