Story by Julia DiGiacomo
RISE AmeriCorp’s new host site, Jewels Academy, is sparking interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for girls from underrepresented communities. Through math tutoring and 8–10 STEM workshops per year, girls are learning skills to help them succeed in high school, university, and future STEM careers.
Jewels Academy’s upcoming project is the “Young Emerging Scientist Virtual App Camp” for 4th through 9th grade girls. The week-long day camp will take place three times over June and July to reach a wide range of students in Des Moines. The main focus will be the design and creation of an app that students can access on their phones.
Jewels Academy’s new RISE AmeriCorps Member Elise Baty will help organize and facilitate the summer camp along with staff. She will help girls troubleshoot technological issues and help them develop business plans for their newfound apps.
“I'm most excited that our new RISE member is interested in becoming a teacher eventually,” Jewels Academy Program Director Joy Castro said. “So I'm just excited that she gets the opportunity to work with kids and learn the ropes of teaching with hands-on experience.”
Although the programs are open to all girls in 4th to 12th grades, Jewels Academy’s mission emphasizes the importance of bridging the gap in STEM training for girls from marginalized communities, such as low-income and racially diverse students. Jewels Academy’s programs are accessible to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds with the help of scholarship aid.
The week of science training can ignite new passions for girls and young women searching out their path in the world. Castro said her favorite part of the summer camps is watching the students become increasingly excited about science and math.
“When the students start the program, they might not be as into computers and science and STEM, but when they leave they say, ‘Oh I actually really like that. I think I want to pursue this in the future,’’' Castro said. “Just seeing their attitudes change about STEM is always one of the most exciting parts of the program.”