A pilot program, Making the Makers, encourages STEM activities among elementary school students, with the guidance of a research team from Texas A & M University.
At Neal Elementary in Bryan, Texas, students used to want to be teachers, firefighters, and professional athletes when they dreamed of what they would do when they grew up. Recently, the list has professions that utilize engineering skills, a result of a $1 million National Science Foundation grant that has funded a pilot program called Making the Makers, implemented by researchers from Texas A & M University.
At Neal Elementary School, over 96 percent of the students are considered to be economically disadvantaged, the team develops experiments based on student curriculum that they believe the students will find challenging and entertaining.
The idea behind Making the Makers is that when students are exposed to STEM concepts and activities, they are more likely to go into STEM fields.
Each year, Neal offers a college scholarship to students who are selected for the program. When students are asked what they want to be when they grow up, principal Juanita Collins has noticed something since the program began 3 years ago.
“Our kids all said, ‘I want to be an engineer,’ ” she said. “Our kids would not have even known about that had they not had exposure to this. It really has just opened their eyes to what’s out there.”