Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Partners connect middle school students to Southeast’s new STEM Center

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The Intel Foundation awarded an Intel Involved Seed Grant of $5,000 to the Washington County 4-H Youth Development Association to support the Montavilla Young Makers Club at PCC’s Southeast Center.

The workshop was a collaborative effort between, left to right, Susanne Christopher (interim division dean for Math, Sciences & Career Technical Education at Southeast Center), Romanna Flores (parent), Stacey Sowders (OSU Extension Service) and Erica Hand (administrative assistant with the Sciences, Health & PE Division at Southeast).

The workshop was a collaborative effort between, left to right, Susanne Christopher (interim division dean for Math, Sciences & Career Technical Education at Southeast Center), Romanna Flores (parent), Stacey Sowders (OSU Extension Service) and Erica Hand (administrative assistant with the Sciences, Health & PE Division at Southeast).

Earlier this year, the Southeast Center partnered with Romanna Flores, a local parent and Intel employee, and Stacey Sowders, who represents the Washington County 4-H Youth Development Association in drafting the grant proposal to host a Young Makers camp this August. It also establishes the Montavilla Young Makers Club for local middle-school aged children in Southeast Portland. Participant recruitment for both the summer camp and club will focus on students who attend Vestal, Bridger, Mt. Tabor, Harrison Park and Creative Science schools in Southeast Portland. PCC will host both the August camp and monthly club meetings in the new STEM Center within the Student Commons at Southeast Center, and recruit students and faculty volunteers to help the the 10-to-13 year olds explore STEM-related projects.

“This is an exciting and timely opportunity to engage and inspire young people in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math,” said Jessica Howard, president of the Southeast Center/Extended Learning Campus. “With bond dollars approved by voters in 2008, PCC has invested financially in its Southeast Center with the goal of inspiring young people to pursue STEAM-related careers.”

The new Student Commons at the Southeast Center, which opened to students in January 2014, has five new science labs for geology, biology, anatomy, physics and chemistry as well as four career technical education/computer classrooms. To complement these new labs and classrooms, PCC established a new STEM Center at Southeast Center, where students from PCC and local public schools can meet, create and publicly display their work.

Susanne Christopher, the interim division dean for Math, Sciences & Career Technical Education at the center, was one of the key organizers with Flores and Sowder to host the one-day hands-on Young Makers Workshop last April.

“The new STEM Center is providing an opportunity for wonderful conversations on many different levels with future community partners,” said Christopher. “It is a place where we can build upon the college’s STEM efforts and support collaboration and connection between students from local schools and PCC students and instructors.”

In this proposal, Flores is leveraging the new STEM facilities at the Southeast Center with her successful partnership with Oregon State University, experience in establishing and leading LEGO Robotics clubs with elementary-aged children. She is also capitalizing on her networks with parents, teachers and administrators from local schools, and staff from Intel.

“This Young Makers Club can make a huge difference for youth in Southeast Portland by helping to expand the possibilities and opportunities these students see for their futures,” said Flores.

About Christine Egan

Christine Egan is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and has a graduate degree in land use and environmental planning. Prior to her Peace Corps service in the Dominican Republic, she lived in Washington DC serving as a legislative advisor to ... more »

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