(1) Sparking social change through STEM education

This month, I started my summer internship at Science Clubs International, a nonprofit organization that aims to spark social change by expanding access to high-quality STEM education. Founded in 2016, SCI has the goal of supporting the growth and organization of Clubes de Ciencia (Science Clubs) internationally. This is a program that invites scientists, graduate students, and postdocs to share their stories of pursuing careers in science with high school and college students and to conduct a series of intensive, hands-on workshops on topics across multiple STEM fields. SCI currently has clubs in eight countries: Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Spain, and the U.S. They organized +600 clubs around the world, with +25000 hours of activities and +15000 students involved.

I realized I wanted to work with SCI when I participated in one of their clubs back in high school, so I know from first-hand experience the impact this initiative can have on young students by boosting their confidence and reassuring them that they belong in STEM. Additionally, during high school, I taught mathematics to young girls and adults, which helped me understand how STEM education is essential to thriving in today’s rapidly changing world, creating community-oriented citizens, and empowering changemakers.  As a Biology and Neuroscience double major, I know the importance of breaking barriers in STEM, and I’m eager to work with an NGO that perfectly aligns with my goal to further develop outreach for scientific educational opportunities, especially for Latin American students.

I’m currently working on the development a six-day online event that will happen in September with +300 students from different parts of the America Continent. The event will happen in three languages— Portuguese, Spanish, and English—and will host panels with scientists from around the world, workshops with specific themes, and presentations at the end where students will showcase what they learned. This will be the second edition of the event and we’re currently selecting the mentors that will coordinate each one of the workshops (clubs).

At SCI, I work on the technology committee and my main task is to supervise and improve the STEM educational online platform developed for running the program. This includes analyzing and testing the platform’s requirements, enhancing its performance, creating comprehensive guides to ease the platform use, facilitating the students’ engagement and participation during the event, giving technical support to students and other committees, directly talking to and helping Portuguese-speaking students navigate the event, and other duties as assigned. 

The work I’m responsible for this summer will contribute to the organization and success of the second international edition of the Science Clubs Event, therefore furthering SCI’s mission. I’m currently writing guides on how to sign in to the platform, and these guides will make it easier for students to apply for the program. Additionally, by translating the guides/platform to Portuguese, Spanish, and English, I’m helping to make the program more accessible to students. I’m excited to get to know the team of renowned scientists working side by side with me and learn from their experiences developing such an amazing program.