This annual summit again dove into the issues of STEM education, focusing on building a robust and qualified pipeline of professionals in the wake of the pandemic.

On Thursday, July 29, the Texas Family Leadership Council, CHILDREN AT RISK and Shell USA, Inc. presented the annual STEM Summit. The summit, co-sponsored by AIG Life & Retirement and Amazon, explored the issues of STEM education, focusing on building a robust and qualified pipeline of professionals in the wake of the pandemic.

Guillermo Diaz, Founder & CEO of Connectado, kicked off this year’s summit by discussing his life journey and how it led him to pursue a career in STEM which included serving as the Chief Information Officer at Cisco. Now through his work with Connectado, he is focused on creating and supporting the next generation of STEM professionals, particularly, young Latino STEM professionals as he emphasized that it is important for us to drive the change in diversity from our own backyard. He went on to state that “Almost 40% of K-12 students in Silicon Valley are Latino, and yet there’s only 4% representation.”

What I suggest to parents is to keep seeking in your local area that provides STEM opportunities or programs throughout the year…  Your students at this time are at an age where it’s impressionable for them to be able to be exposed to various types of opportunities within STEM measures. That’s key.

Dr. Heather Domjan

Executive Director of UH STEM Center & Executive Director of the Science & Engineering Fair of Houston

In the first panel, Combatting STEM Learning Loss, moderator Leolin Bowen (code.org) and panelists Christopher Hurt (Tulsa Public Schools) and Dr. Heather Domjan (University of Houston) discussed how educators can help students regain STEM knowledge lost during the pandemic as STEM subjects saw the biggest decline in educational performance in Texas in 2021.  Christopher pointed out that a lack of motivation is a large problem with the gap in STEM. To combat this, Christopher suggests connecting with the community around schools.

During the STEM For All panel, moderator Brad Simmons (Children at Risk Board Member) and panelists Kara Brown (Black Girls Do Engineer), Cathy Chen (FabLab) and Shane Woods (GirlStart) discussed the importance of cultural sensitivity in STEM education. Cathy Chen spoke on the importance of building trust within the community when promoting a sense of inclusivity and diversity in STEM and the arts. Kara Branch pointed out the importance of having Black women in STEM careers as role models to Black girls – “You have to see it to believe it.” Shane Woods added that it’s important to start early with exposing girls of color to women who are in STEM careers – “They don’t need the vocabulary first, they need the wonder and the curiosity.”

The Teaching for the Future: Equipping Educators panel saw moderator Dr. Eric Pyle (James Madison University) and panelists Desh Bagley (TechPlay Zone), Rachna Mathur (STEMologist) and Patricia Cortez (Dallas ISD) discuss the importance of interdisciplinary learning when it comes to STEM and how it is important to set up the education system in a way that allows teachers to stay up to date on the latest STEM education trends. Desh Bagley spoke on the importance of kids being able to practice STEM at home with their parents – and the funding needed to support that. “We don’t start early enough.” Rachna Mathur emphasized. She also spoke on how teachers are taxed to teach everything.

Finally, during the Partnering for the Future panel, moderator Nagma Meharali (Microsoft Philanthropies) and panelists Angelia McFarland (Dell), Tosin Aiyegbusi (AIG Life and Retirement), Patrick Felder (Salesforce) and Carlos A. Perez (Shell E&P) talked about how important it is to have a curriculum that incorporates outside activities – all aided by funding in the classroom. “Experience is everything.”

This was a learning opportunity for educators and community leaders, this event highlighted the work of STEM industry leaders, educators, and nonprofit innovators working to improve access to STEM education for all students. Attendees left with a better understanding of what they can do to support the next generation of STEM professionals.

The main thing is to reach out to corporations. We want to help but we don’t always get the opportunity to help. The other thing is we need to engage, not only in high school but middle school and elementary too.

Carlos Perez

Offshore, Maintaenance Supervisor, Shell E&P

CONGRATULATIONS to the 10 HP laptop winners!

Shareese Knight

Tamira Fleming

Beatrice Middleton

Shauna Brookins

Luiz Freestone

Jake Rudisill

Leigh Warren

Louis Moser

James Wigfall

Tonya Davis

WATCH THE RECORDING

Full STE(A)M Ahead! Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Careers

Thursday, July 29, 2022

This annual summit will again dive into the issues of STEM education, focusing on building a robust and qualified pipeline of professionals in the wake of the pandemic. A learning opportunity for educators and community leaders, this event will highlight the work of STEM industry leaders, educators, and nonprofit innovators working to improve access to STEM education for all students. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of what they can do to support the next generation of STEM professionals.

This post was written by Jessica Bundage, Assistant Director, Texas Racial Equity Collaborative, and Rebecca Hernandez, Director of Media Activism at CHILDREN AT RISK.

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