Stanford Summer STEM Camp for Students of Color Goes Virtual During COVID-19

Stanford Summer STEM Camp for Students of Color Goes Virtual During COVID-19

As students and their families prepare for what would normally be considered summer break, many people are looking for programs to participate in amid COVID-19. Many educational service providers are restructuring their programs to comply with social distancing regulations and are going digital. As they pivot, the question about access for all students has been posed as some parents cannot afford top-tier academic programs. In response, three STEM organizations in the Bay Area operated by leaders of color have teamed up to provide the Science in the City STEM program at Stanford University, virtually.

In the seventh year of the program, The Social Engineering Project (TSEP), Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (SGSE) and SLAC Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) have partnered to bring Science In The City virtually as parents seek quality programs for their students to participate in. For the fraction of the cost, founders Dr. Bryan Brown of SGSE; Kevin L. Nichols of TSEP; and Dorian Bohler and Marguax Lopez of SLAC have designed traditional STEM low-cost summer experience for incoming 5th and 6th-grade underrepresented students of color (African American/Black, Chicano/Latino/LatinX, Indigenous/Native American, and Pacific Islander) at $350 until June 1.

The virtual summer camp will take place on Zoom during the week of July 13 -17, 2020.

According to a statement released by the group, “The purpose of SITC is for students to fall in love with math, science, physics, and chemistry. By doing so, they have a higher probability of going to college, majoring in a STEM-related major, and working in the tech industry in order to improve the quality of life of their families and communities.”

As outlined by the group, “This year’s curriculum will focus on weather, biotech (genetics), and exploring the most advanced research available on COVID-19. Further, students will also interview researchers, scientists, and engineers; and have additional assignments to do at home if they choose for more exposure to the concepts taught.”

To make the program more accessible for families to enroll their students in the program, SITC has partnered with Northrop Grumman who will provide scholarships for students experiencing economic hardships or that have been impacted by COVID-19; First Republic Bank, which will provide laptop computers for students who are experiencing hardships and/or do not have devices to participate with; and ThermoFisher Scientific, which will provide lab coats, gloves, goggles, and backpacks for students.

Ahead of the application opening for the program, BLACK ENTERPRISE interviewed Nichols via email where he expressed the importance of creating an online experience that families can afford and students of color can benefit greatly from.

Creating Pathways to STEM

What are you most excited about being able to provide this virtual experience?

I am most excited about the culturally relevant curriculum that my team has developed this year due to our partnership with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and SLAC Accelerator Laboratory. Our students will learn how scientists and physicists are currently studying the COVID-19 virus, what it looks like under a laser, and they will conduct a similar experiment at home to study the virus themselves.

Will the virtual program create more access for students across the Bay Area to participate?

Yes, going virtual will actually create more access for students across the nation. We are no longer limited to students being able to get to and from Stanford University. Moreover, thanks to a generous donation from First Republic Bank, we can provide laptop computers to students experiencing hardships that do not have a device to participate with.

What do you hope students will be able to take away from the experience?

I hope that students will fall in love with science, build their confidence in STEM, and know that they can be successful scientists. Our program provides lab coats and transforms our students into scientists on Day 1. We positively reinforce that black and brown people are smart and can accomplish/achieve anything that we set our minds to. We affirm this throughout the week and we have a Harambee-type ceremony on the last day that sends them off to be scientists to the world.

To learn more about the program and how you can get involved, click here.