November 10, 2021

Pilot program address gap in STEM education

Virtual program, called Elements of STEM, provided middle school students the opportunity to see applications of STEM in the real world.

Virtual program, called Elements of STEM, provided middle school students the opportunity to see applications of STEM in the real world.

A virtual pilot program recently provided students in seven Indianapolis area middle schools the opportunity to experience dozens of jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Junior Achievement of Central Indiana and Eli Lilly teamed up for Elements of STEM.

Lilly employee volunteers hosted live demonstrations on an interactive, virtual platform and overviewed dozens of jobs within the four STEM fields. Students were also able to select individual simulations to learn how STEM careers can play an important role in their education, employment, and future.

Charlotte Hawthorne, director of social impact at Eli Lilly, said many students may not be exposed to someone currently working in the STEM field.

“We also recognize that there is a significant gap especially within our public-school systems within central Indiana and primarily among Black and Brown students,” Hawthorne said.

Junior Achievement of Central Indiana Executive Vice President of Strategy and Programs Alyssa Andis said the program provided a special opportunity for many students.

“It’s an experience that students aren’t able to get, teachers aren’t able to have access to,” Andis said. “The connection to a real-world organization like Lilly is outstanding and being able to bring that into the classroom in this real-world interactive way I think is something that is very unique.”

A survey went out to participants to gauge the impact. The hope is to continue and expand the program.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at tbennett@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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