Better than Kale Series | STEM Fair Part Two

Better than Kale Series | STEM Fair Part Two

Chicago Teens + Lumity’s Professional Mentoring + Real STEM Work = STEM Champs

In our last blog post, you met our STEM Fair’s championship team. They are impressive. But, as those teens would be the first to tell you, all Lumity teens are champions. We’re not saying this because of the many breakthrough STEM ideas our students have (although their ideas are brilliant!). We’re also not saying it because Lumity teens are the typical “star students” (some are, but many aren’t). In fact, when many teens enter Lumity’s program, they aren’t as successful in school as they could be. They find traditional classrooms too constraining, too passive, too disconnected from their interests.

Lumity teens are champions because, despite challenges they may be facing in and out of school, they aren’t giving up on learning. They are proving that in the right learning environments and with challenging, relevant activities, they thrive.

Take, for example, another recent STEM Fair participant. When this student first started in the Lumity program, she wasn’t participating in any of her regular classes at school—and even our hands-on professional learning activities weren’t making a difference for her yet. Often combative with her peers and with us, she struggled to develop the social tools to work on a team. It took heartfelt, consistent mentoring by Lumity’s program team and a relevant Real World Project to finally engage this student.

Working with two other girls, this student designed a STEM solution—tracker-embedded jewelry—that can be used to combat human trafficking. It’s a difficult topic and one that this student and her team felt passionate about impacting given its traumatic affect on Chicago’s communities, families, and teens.

When it came time for the teen to present her team’s solution at the Lumity STEM Fair, we were a bit nervous. We had been observing her growth as a student, her development into a contributing teammate, and her acquisition of new professional skills. We just weren’t quite sure how the progress she made amongst peers would translate into her performance at the Fair in front of Chicago’s most impressive STEM leaders.

As we find with so many of our teens, she rose to the high expectations that were set for her. She impressed the STEM judges, and her team’s STEM solution took 2nd Place. This student and her team weren’t officially the “Champions” at the Fair. However, the way this student worked at developing herself as a student and person, her persistence in solving a difficult challenge, and her leadership during a stressful event is the epitome of what a champion does.

Better than Kale: Lumity news that makes you feel good.

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