11:27 AM

Texas Workforce Commission Awards UHD Scholars Academy Nearly $100,000 for "Camp STEM Prep"

The Texas Workforce Commission recently awarded UHD's Scholars Academy with a $99,960 grant to host "Camp STEM Prep," a two-week summer program for pre-college students with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Nearly 130 students in grades 10 to 12 between the ages of 14 and 21 will come to the UHD campus this summer for accelerated training in key math and science courses needed for college, as well as to conduct STEM research with doctorate-level UHD professors and UHD undergraduates.

"The goal of Camp STEM Prep is to increase the number of secondary school students interested in STEM, as well as develop a pipeline of future STEM professionals for Houston," said Mary Jo Parker, principal investigator of the grant and director of Scholars Academy. "We will focus on underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in local public, private and charter schools with an interest in science, math and computer science."

Throughout the camp, students will conduct lab research in the mornings, focused specifically on biotechnology/life sciences and chemistry/petroleum refining. Students also will receive instruction on coding and will develop a mobile application as a result of their research.

During lunch, Scholars Academy will bring in science and energy experts to speak to the students and introduce them to the professional possibilities available to STEM majors.

In the afternoons, students will take classes to improve their math and science skills, receive SAT preparation training and learn about resume building and social media best practices from the Gulf Coast Workforce Board.

Camp STEM Prep also will include two parent sessions to educate the students' guardians on college admission processes and important financial aid information and deadlines.

At the conclusion of the camp, each participating student will receive a complimentary T.I. graphing calculator.

UHD co-principal investigators on the grant include Mian Jiang, Rachna Sadana and Jon Aoki from the Department of Natural Sciences.

"With UHD's prime location in the heart of downtown - and its proximity to the Texas Medical Center and Houston's energy corridor - our University is an ideal institution for these aspiring STEM students and professionals to conduct exciting research and learn about how to follow their dreams of entering STEM fields," said Parker. "In addition to the intensive on-campus training they will receive, Scholars Academy will take the students on two off-campus field trips to museums that showcase the value of STEM contributions in our community."