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Engineering Camp Targets Englewood Elementary Students

By Wendell Hutson | June 24, 2014 6:38pm | Updated on June 25, 2014 8:29am
 A youth camp started by the National Society of Black Engineers starts July 7, 2014 at Miles Davis Academy in Englewood.
A youth camp started by the National Society of Black Engineers starts July 7, 2014 at Miles Davis Academy in Englewood.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

ENGLEWOOD — For the first time since its 2007 inception, a national engineering program geared toward minority youths will be held in Chicago.

The free Summer Engineering Experience for Kids program, founded by the National Society of Black Engineers, is for students in third through fifth grade and runs from July 7-25 at Miles Davis Academy, 6740 S. Paulina St.

About 150 students are expected to attend, according to Kristin Schmotzer, a spokeswoman for the program.

The purpose of the program is "to raise the interest of underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] as an important step toward careers in engineering," Schmotzer said.

Earle STEM Elementary School Principal Demetrius Hobson said 24 of his students will be attending the program and more STEM programs are needed.

"STEM programs need to be available in as many places as possible that would allow our kids to develop engineering skills," Hobson said. "Some of the poorest countries produce some of the best engineers and our kids, who live in the richest country, are lagging behind when it comes to engineering."

Hobson hopes to host the program next year at his Englewood school, which has a STEM focus.

"Camps like these are better than summer school because it teaches children things like computer coding and design," he added.

Organizers said bringing the national program to Chicago was among its goals, and "the location at Miles Davis Academy on the South Side is ideal for the introduction of this program [because it] encourages young people to consider engineering as a career option," said Franklin Moore, national program director.

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the program would compliment the city's efforts to create more STEM elementary schools.

“I am proud to welcome the program to the city of Chicago, since this program will expand students' access to high quality STEM learning opportunities that will challenge them, expose them to new interests, and help them develop competitive skills for a 21st century economy,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel said he would like to see more students receiving a STEM education in the next four years.

Chicago Public Schools currently has five college prep STEM schools: Chicago Vocational in South Chicago; Clark Academic Prep in Austin; George Corliss in Pullman; Sarah Goode Academy in Chicago Lawn; and Lake View High School in Lakeview.

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