A select group of students at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur received the opportunity to catch a glimpse of STEM-related careers, thanks to DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson and global company, CH2M Hill.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. With DeKalb County’s Camp Invention program, 45 students (kindergarten through fifth grade) were chosen to participate and learn about the various aspects of STEM-related careers from July 14-18.
CH2M Hill donated $10,000, which covered expenses for supplies and a stipend for instructors. Johnson said local residents also donated common household items such as milk cartons, cereal boxes, wheels and batteries for the classes.
The CH2M Hill Foundation officials said they decided to sponsor McNair because they felt that the school believes in excellence in education.
“We believed our contribution could help this program grow in exponentially,” Greg Wilson, CH2M Hill’s Vice-President and area manager, said. “We also recognize that DeKalb has outstanding resources that often go unrecognized, and we wanted to raise a profile of exceptional talent so the public could see positive images of the type of talent that often goes unrecognized in our local communities.”
Camp Invention is a week-long program set up to reach communities across the county and people of all ages to teach them about the benefits of STEM-related careers.
Johnson said that this type of program is crucial in creating more inventors, as well as entrepreneurs.
“It’s not enough now to play Candy Crush, but I want us to make the games and build apps,” he said. “The goal, for me, was to show them that they have infinite possibilities in life and [that] they just have to make the most of it.”
STEM helps make children more marketable if they can build a background in these chosen careers, said Kendra Kelly, community relations coordinator for Johnson.
“We want to make sure that our kids have a better chance at succeeding than we did, and we want them to go even further than we have, and they can only do that if they have a solid foundation,” she said.
McNair now has a year-round program at its own academy, McNair Discovery STEM Academy. Camp Invention’s visit to this academy was the first time that it has been brought to District 3.
However, this isn’t CH2M Hill’s first experience with STEM. It also sponsored events for students (from kindergarteners to high school seniors) in Gwinnett, Fulton and Clayton counties.
“We are proud of the fact we conceived a partnership with Camp Invention, worked closely with McNair Academy, provided activities and inspired our children to reach beyond the stars,” Wilson said.
McNair is located at 2162 Second Ave. in Decatur. To learn more about its STEM Academy, visit mcnaires.dekalb.k12.ga.us.