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The STEM Scholars program supports students in the pursuit of post-secondary education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In this program, students participate in hands-on activities emphasizing engineering and energy efficiency.

After School Program
During the free after-school program, students collaborate with others from more than 20 Chicago public high schools tackling challenging and engaging activities covering topics including engineering, architecture, environmental sustainability, chemistry, coding, and energy systems. Each session challenges a student’s critical thinking skills, explores new topics and careers, and opens a world of possibilities. Visiting professionals expand on the activities and lessons learned and help students relate studies they pursue, culminating in a tangible career. A subset of after-school participants are then offered a paid summer internship.

Summer Internship
A subset of the after-school STEM Scholars participate in a paid summer internship at the Energy Resources Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago. During the internship, students learn autonomy and innovation while also developing skills in teamwork, building a professional demeanor, and fulfilling tasks and expectations. Our mission is to help students pursue STEM careers, connect with mentors and energy engineers, visit laboratories at UIC, and speak with professors and graduate students. Over the summer, interns continue to learn about environmental injustice and equity by working at a Chicago community garden to help support community greenspaces. Interns also learn and practice energy advocacy through energy community actions events presenting about energy efficiency to help their communities become more energy literate and save on utility bills.

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STEM Scholars participating in the 3D Printer Session

The STEM Scholars program has provided unique and challenging hands-on activities to underrepresented and marginalized high school students since 2019. The program’s primary goal is to encourage students to pursue secondary education in STEM fields, promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in education and beyond. This year, the program has partnered with ELEGOO to acquire the Neptune 3 Pro FDM printer for the scholars. This printer received excellent customer feedback and was named the best budget mid-size printer of 2023 by All3DP. We are proud to partner with ELEGOO because they aim to make STEM education more universal by providing the necessary tools for individuals to learn and apply STEM with tools like robotics kits, 3D Printers, and many more.

Providing our students with education and experience with 3D printers and CAD tools empowers them with valuable skills to bridge socio-economic gaps and enhance their educational and vocational opportunities. The program’s team understands our students’ hardships when pursuing secondary education, making it harder to complete a four-year degree. These hardships are usually attributed to a lack of resource access and unpreparedness. For these reasons, students explored engineering, manufacturing, and non-STEM-related careers to discover the various possible career paths during the STEM Scholars after-school sessions. By providing marginalized students exposure to innovative technologies such as the Neptune 3 Pro FDM printer, educators open doors to fields such as engineering, design, and manufacturing, where diversity is crucial for driving innovation.

During the 3D printer session, the students were prompted to create innovative designs and usage of 3D printers. There were engaging and creative discussions, particularly noteworthy: a catalytic converter 3D printer to ease the financial burden on those affected by the ongoing theft crisis, a human organ 3D printer to increase the lives saved by individuals awaiting an organ, and a collectible doll 3D printer to make collectible dolls accessible to anyone.

After the discussions, the students were introduced to TinkerCAD, a 3D online software modeling tool, to design a customized keychain. The session concluded with students learning how to use the ELEGOO Neptune 3 Pro printer to print their keychains. We extend our gratitude to ELEGOO for kindly gifting the STEM Scholars program this 3D printer. We also thank Jaqueline Rojas Robles for creating the session activity and group challenge.

You can find what you love in STEM through experience and practice.

Phillip Chavez

I am so grateful to have experienced this program. I learned a lot about the professional world and myself during this program. I feel much better prepared for the professional world and for my college career now having gone through this program. Thank you for all your guidance and kind words.

Xitlali Chavez-Morris

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STEM Scholars in the News

This is where you can discover the online presence of the STEM Scholars!