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Enterprise State Community College is preparing to share a love of science, technology, engineering and mathematics with rising 11th and 12th graders through its first-ever “Summer of STEM” program July 22-26.

According to Science and Health Division Chair Tyler Simmons, the program will be offered free to students who are underrepresented in STEM fields as part of a grant through the National Science Foundation Alliance. Simmons said the program serves as a great stepping stone for students with an interest in STEM, as it can lead to future opportunities down the line.

“It’s actually part of a grant through the National Science Foundation Alliance we’re in with several colleges and universities in what’s known as the Greater Alabama Black Belt Region of the state,” Simmons said. “The goal is to represent underrepresented groups graduating in STEM fields, and the summer academy is part of the program to open their eyes to opportunities available to them. We want to get students to participate now so when they graduate high school they can attend another summer academy and take courses to get their feet wet; they’ll also become eligible to become part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, which is a scholarship or a siphon program that awards $1,500 per semester to students majoring in a STEM field.

“Additionally, if they leave ESCC and go to other schools that are a member of the alliance, there’s funding for the scholarship to go with them, and it can end up being a four year thing. Not every kid that comes will receive a scholarship just due to funding limits, but it’s still a great shot at a good future.”

Summer of STEM will allow participants a chance to learn more about aspects of STEM programs through hands-on lab experiments in chemistry, physics and biology, as well as take them on field trips to local and regional industries that utilize STEM techniques. Students will also have a chance to learn valuable time management and study skills and participate in math, English and computer programming workshops.

Simmons said that though learning will be the foundation of the summer program, fun will also be a major factor for participating students.

“The hands-on stuff will be along the lines of fun and exciting things to show them the power and relevance of health sciences, and we’ll try to relate that to things they do every day,” Simmons said. “We really want to increase interest and awareness in STEM fields and show there are opportunities there for those who pursue a STEM degree. This program will give them a head start and they’ll really see that they can do it -- we want them to know it’s exciting and they can get where they want to go by starting here.”

The requirements for participation mandate that students must be rising juniors or seniors in high school who plan to major in a STEM field and must be a member of a historically underrepresented minority in STEM, such as African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islander, or Hispanic. The program is free for eligible participants and will be held Monday - Thursday the week of July 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Applications can be found at www.escc.edu/SUMMEROFSTEM; those applications must be completed and submitted by June 31.

For more information, contact Dr. Tyler Simmons at tsimmons@escc.edu.

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