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SEP 09, 2020 • 6 min read
Jessica Young, rising senior at Los Altos High School, launched STEMpower, a program dedicated to teaching younger students to the STEM field through hands-on workshops, activities, and discussions.
Jessica teamed up with the YMCA to host these events which drew larger crowds, reaching 25 participants in both weekly workshops, one for ages 6-8 and one for ages 9-12. Jessica manages a volunteer team of 15 individuals and organizes them to lead various workshops and activities.
“When initially brainstorming for a project idea, I wrote down a list of my interests and hobbies that I enjoy participating in. Two common themes that occurred repeatedly among most of the activities were my interest in STEM and my love for working with younger students. With the help of my ECL mentor, I came up with the idea of hosting a series of STEM workshops for young students, effectively centering the project around STEM education,” said Jessica.
Like all successful organizations, the creation of STEMpower took considerable time, commitment, and a strong team. Jessica worked with a team at Crimson to assist with both her academic and extracurricular profile. “My ECL (Extracurricular and Leadership) Mentor, Audrey, helped me a lot as she offered many useful advice and resources (links to websites with useful information).”
Audrey, Jessica’s mentor acted as a guide to help Jessica think of the smaller details and provide resources and support to essential workers: “Jessica created STEMpower, a voluntary organization dedicated to providing virtual and in-person STEM-related workshops with hands-on activities and discussion for preschool and elementary students. Initially offered this spring to children of frontline healthcare workers through the Los Altos YMCA, Jessica has expanded her reach and now has a team of approximately 15 volunteers helping to develop and curate the curriculum and deliver programming to a larger audience.”
Like many students this year, Jessica encountered difficulties when COVID-19 surged. “After 4 successful in-person workshops at a local elementary school, in-person school was canceled and we were all placed in self-quarantine at home. Now, I needed to be able to find a way for STEMpower to continue through a virtual platform,” said Jessica. The task to take her initiative online was a necessary one. In this case, Jessica has been able to reach a bigger audience thanks to the internet. “She has received substantial local news coverage, and is considering registering for non-profit status. I am immensely proud of her hard work and constant determination, and feel strongly that she is exactly the type of student Crimson would benefit from showcasing,” said Audrey.
When asked what advice she had for younger students looking to pursue a similar project, Jessica offered her own two cents: “My advice for these students is to first think about the reason behind their goals before taking any action. So, consider the question: Why is that your goal?” Like any successful business model, all of the important questions must be answered. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? “And after taking some time to think about that question, students should have a good idea of what motivates/interests them. With this knowledge, students can discover projects for themselves that can benefit themselves or others in their community,” Jessica shared. “The length of this entire process varies among everyone as no two people are the same! So, it’s ok if this is taking you a year to figure out—it took me a year to brainstorm and plan STEMpower before I launched it!”
Jessica is currently applying to top colleges and has high hopes for her future, while continuing to support those around her. “One of my long term goals is to help my mom start her own preschool. After she came to the United States, it has always been her dream to start her own preschool and teach young students. In order to do that, she needs a location and also funding. Because I am currently saving up for college, I plan to save up money in the future for her to be able to achieve her goal.”
As she considers her future, Jessica plans to pass down STEMpower to another rising senior at Los Altos High School. “After I graduate this year, I will have another high school volunteer leading STEMpower. I hope that STEMpower will continue to grow in its reach and audience by providing more workshop series for students from anywhere in the world to participate in. What I envision this to look like is STEMpower becoming more efficient at organizing and hosting workshop series—meaning that workshop curriculum can be recycled and programs can be repeated.”
It is initiatives like Jessica’s --ones that start off small and eventually scale to reach a wider audience-- that are most successful in high school. Creating and providing resources to one’s community is not always a straightforward task. In order to have a successful extracurricular project, it is key to be patient, be persistent, and be passionate! To learn more about Jessica’s initiative, visit stempowerus.org.
Our team members hail from many different backgrounds, making us a diverse and knowledgeable group with skill sets in countless areas. Our varied expertise allows us to create a custom dream-team for each student we have the opportunity to work with. While we all have our distinct roles, we all wear different hats, which is what truly makes us such a special family armed and eager to provide results!