The new school year is fast approaching and a local student is determined to get her peers excited about heading back to the classroom.
Jacqueline Means, a 10th grader at Delaware Military Academy, used a few science projects to draw the attention of at least 30 students earlier this week at the Girls Empowerment STEM program. Means said she’s determined to help inner city girls reach for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
One experiment incorporated the recipe for slime. It called for plenty of patience, borax powder, water and food dye.
“Slime is popular. I’ve seen it all over Instagram and Facebook. I picked [projects] that catch their eye so they can go home and say, ‘Oh I want to this one or that one,'” Means said.
At an early age, 14 year-old Means developed a strong love for science and math. Today, she dreams of becoming a surgeon.
“She had read that there’s a shortage of women in STEM, and there’s an even smaller percentage of minority women in STEM, and said I want other girls in Wilmington to at least get interested in science and maybe they’ll be surgeons,” said JoAnn Means, who helped her daughter organize the event.
U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester, D-Delaware, also participated to spark students’ interest. She even came dressed in a white lab coat with goggles to create oil lamps with the young ladies.
“I think because we live in the city of Wilmington, it’s important to give back because the youth are the ones that are going to make a difference as they get older. So if you can impact the youth and see other people giving back, get them interested in STEM, all types of things, our community will get better but you have to invest in the youth,” JoAnn said.
And investing in the youth was certainly the goal of every inspiring woman who attended including Velda Jones Potter, who was the first African American woman to earn an engineering degree from the University of Delaware.
“If you love math and if you love science, engineering can be a career for you,” Potter said.
It didn’t take long for students to feel empowered after such speeches.
“I want to be a teacher,” one student shouted.
There’s more in store for students in order to keep them involved in STEM throughout the school year.
“We’ll be doing these every three months so brace yourself because Jacqueline wants to make sure that this is a consistent thing with the girls not just a one time thing, so we will be doing this again and getting girls interested in STEM and doing many more experiments,” JoAnn said.
Students walked away with more than just a greater sense of science and math. They also took home some school supplies to help each of them have a successful school year. Some of the contributors included Healthy Kids Delaware, Nemours, City of Wilmington, Shop Rite and a host of others.