Elementary schools distribute STEM boxes to break industry barriers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Charlottesville City elementary schools handed out STEM boxes on Wednesday, along with the school supplies they plan to distribute to families throughout the school year.
"We just feel it's so important that we're giving our kids exactly what they need to be able to support them when they're doing virtual learning," Johnson Elementary Principal Summerlyn Thompson said.
Back in March when schools closed, the STEM teachers in Charlottesville developed ideas to help deliver engaging activities and challenges while they worked remotely.
Students not only received the tools for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities, but also the tools to be changemakers.
"The two most notoriously underrepresented fields are engineering and medicine," said Dr. Sana Syed, a pediatrician at the University of Virginia Health System said. "We see inequities amplified to a huge level in the areas that we walk and work in."
UVA Health professionals and the city's STEM program team worked together to make the kits a reality.
Through their resources and the immense support of the community, they managed to raise more than $30,000.
The box offers more than just what's inside it as it offers students of all backgrounds a chance.
"As we look around the world, there are some very complex and complicated problems that can't be solved by one expert in one field," said Charlottesville City Schools STEM Director Nigel Standish.
"We should not have people or children disengaging themselves from these [fields] just because of lack of opportunity, or mentorship and engagement," Syed said.
The kits go to students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. They'll have a STEM assignment every weekend to get them interested in such fields and show them that they're capable of succeeding in them.
Those interested in donating more money toward the kits can do so through this GoFundMe page.