JACKSON, Miss., July 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Much attention has been paid to the importance of engaging girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but little is said about the promise it has for young, African-American boys. Research shows that African-American men remain one of the most underrepresented groups in science and engineering careers.
The Minority Male Makers Program, developed nationally by Verizon, is a two-year program equipping more than 700 minority middle school boys across the country with high level skills – from 3D design to app development. The program, which completed its first phase at Jackson State University on July 10 with 25 students and 15 educators, addresses the underrepresentation of minority men in STEM fields and steps to close the gaps.
JSU is one of four leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation directing this pioneering program, which instructs students five days per week during intensive, eight-hour per day technology classes on campus throughout the summer.
"We are fortunate to have the program, and we are the first one out of the gate. Verizon is helping JSU leverage its resources to bolster student performance," said Dr. Ayanna Gill, coordinator for Blackburn Laboratory Middle School. Furthermore, she said, the program gives every young student an opportunity to think innovatively and creatively impact future generations. Gill is also the principal investigator for the Minority Male Makers Verizon grant.
Dr. Kamal Ali, chair of the Industrial Systems Technology Department at JSU, said, "Students in the Minority Male Makers performed admirably. They learned how to develop apps, came up with their own ideas and created solid 3D objects on the computer. It was amazing how quickly they caught on. Because the curriculum developed for them was finished in half the time, we had to redesign it. Overall, the seventh graders proved that the younger you are the more capable you are at handling technology."
Among innovations by Blackburn Middle School students were apps to gauge the distance of school buses for morning pickups and tracking potholes throughout the city.
Each university's curriculum is distinct, fostering skills and positive attitudes. Curriculums are designed to boost curiosity, creative problem solving and confidence while increasing opportunities such as college, high-paying careers and entrepreneurship.
"Verizon's Minority Male Makers program is helping young men cultivate new abilities through extensive instruction in creating and designing apps and 3D objects while strengthening their math and science skills," said Krista Bourne, president – Houston/Gulf Coast Region, Verizon Wireless. "As a leader in the technology industry, Verizon is proud to offer these students the opportunity to learn lifelong skills and develop the foundation they need to become engineers, software developers, researchers, teachers and physicists."
Of the 100 participating students at Jackson State University, all are eligible for federal free or reduced lunch program. The students are also mentored by minority college men in collaboration with the National CARES Mentoring Movement. Dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth-serving and mentoring organizations to guide minority youth to academic and social success, CARES creates relationships that will help students envision what their own future might look like.
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SOURCE Verizon Wireless