U.S. Representative Judy Biggert joined students at Brooks Middle School in Bolingbrook to kick off a new after-school education program focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). During the event, students previewed the program's exciting new curriculum, including the Smart Phone Genius Project, crime scenes investigation, and a nationwide electric car competition sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory.
The new pilot program was spearheaded by Senior Pastor A.J. Jones of City of Hope Covenant Church, Brooks Middle School, Loyola University, and Biggert to help spark student interest in STEM disciplines. Despite gains in recent years, many schools struggle to keep pace with federal goals for math and science education. According to the Illinois STEM Report Card for 2011, interest in STEM majors is decreasing in Illinois among young girls and culturally-diverse students.
"Pastor Jones and the faculty at Brooks Middle School have done an outstanding job, and we're excited to give these students an opportunity to explore the science behind everything from I-Phones to electric cars," said Biggert who serves on both the U.S. House education and science committees. "An early interest in STEM education can lead students to successful high-tech careers, and it will help inspire them to pursue the next generation of scientific discoveries."
The pilot program at Brooks Middle School will begin in January 2013 with 40 students who will meet once a week to learn about smart phone and computer technology, electric vehicles, and other real-life applications for scientific analysis. Program partners include the Fox Valley Electric Car Association, Bolingbrook Police Department, Argonne National Laboratory, and iCracked Inc., a national smart phone repair company. Loyola University Chicago professor Dr. Marlon James will assist in conducting an evaluation of the program's impact on student academic and social outcomes.
"The STEM program is a phenomenal opportunity for Brooks Middle School to work in collaboration with community stakeholders to provide our students with enriching after-school activities," said Brooks Middle School Assistant Principal Christina Sylvester. "And our culturally-diverse student body promises to provide an illustrative example for other schools that are seeking to close the achievement gap through innovative programs and community partnerships. We are thrilled to be able to offer our students this opportunity and help them gain a 21st century education in STEM fields that will serve them for a lifetime."
"We view this as a great opportunity to partner with Brooks Middle School to help students improve socially and academically, particularly in the areas of science and math," said Pastor Jones. "City of Hope is a church of the community and truly believes church and school partnerships represent the most strategic approach toward community transformation. These two institutions bring people together more than anything else and offer the most holistic opportunity to promote change."