By Haywood Liggett
Listen Up, Lansing Staff Reporter
A local non-profit organization is working to empower children in the areas of science, math, and technology (STEM).
The Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) has been helping youth (ages 7-14) improve their performance in STEM subjects over the past half-decade.
Their mission is to prepare Lansing-area students to participate in a global knowledge economy. Through innovative after school and summer programs, ITEC works to advance ability in these subjects as well as robotics and digital media.
Employing Michigan State University education students, ITEC attempts to provide familiar faces for kids that may not receive a high volume of STEM education in their schools. Alexandra Stevens, Director of Operations, believes that retaining instructors is an important part in creating a comfortable environment for the children.
“It takes some time for students to warm up, especially to unfamiliar faces,” she said. “The more they get to know the instructors, the more receptive they are to learning the material and growing into better students. It also gives the instructors an opportunity to become more comfortable around the students and with the material. Everyone benefits.”
Brayden Brewer, a 10-year-old LEGO Robotics participant over the past summer believes ITEC greatly prepared him for the coming school year. During the weeklong camp, Brewer learned some basic concepts of engineering and built his own robot.
“I normally forget most of the stuff I learn over the summer from the last school year,” he said. “But I feel like I’ll be able to remember everything now, and I built a lot of cool stuff”
Brewer is not the only participant that feels he is better off after participating in the program. Modesto Munez, an 8-year-old attendee of the same program as Brewer, believes ITEC helped his enthusiasm towards school.
“I’ve never been much of a school type kid,” he said. “But after working with some cool teachers from ITEC, I decided to give my regular school another chance.”
John Delehanty, ITEC employee, said he believes the project will continue to grow.
“As long as we continue to spread the word, we’ll be able to reach more kids each summer,” he said. “We really have just tapped into our potential as far as the impact we can make on the community. Our biggest wave hasn’t even been felt yet in my opinion.”