STEM Club applies for computer science grant

%28Left+to+right%29+Jackie+Hu%2C+Kimaya+Raje%2C+Katy+Voor+and+Claudia+Shelbourne%2C+STEM+Club+members+and+juniors%2C+discuss+computer+science.+Raje+said+club+members+are+researching+computer+science+in+order+to+peer+mentor+other+students+and+earn+the+Honda+STEM+grant.+ALEX+YOM+%2F+PHOTO

(Left to right) Jackie Hu, Kimaya Raje, Katy Voor and Claudia Shelbourne, STEM Club members and juniors, discuss computer science. Raje said club members are researching computer science in order to peer mentor other students and earn the Honda STEM grant. ALEX YOM / PHOTO

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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Club plans to apply for a grant on May 1 in order to create a program that peer mentors students through teaching them computer science, according to Kimaya Raje, STEM Club president and junior.

(Left to right) Jackie Hu, Kimaya Raje, Katy Voor and Claudia Shelbourne, STEM Club members and juniors, discuss computer science. Raje said club members are researching computer science in order to peer mentor other students and earn the Honda STEM grant. ALEX YOM / PHOTO
(Left to right) Jackie Hu, Kimaya Raje, Katy Voor and Claudia Shelbourne, STEM Club members and juniors, discuss computer science. Raje said club members are researching computer science in order to peer mentor other students and earn the Honda STEM grant. ALEX YOM / PHOTO

“Basically, since we’re STEM Club we want to expand beyond just helping foster the synergy between different fields; we want to help the community, so there are a lot of grants that are related to STEM specifically that help youth,” Raje said. “The grant that we’re applying for is a Honda STEM grant and we decided to go in the route of computer science because it has a lot to do with logic and problem-solving.”

According to Raje, the club plans to do a series of workshops to peer mentor students through computer science.

“We’re looking at doing a series of workshops, and the reason (for) doing workshops is that it’s a little better than focusing on one school, and the series of workshops could target a community as a whole, and it could have a larger outreach, essentially,” Raje said.

The program will be in partnership with the IUPUI computer science department, which already has some experience in doing outreach programs like this one, according to Raje.

“We’ll probably use the modules that our mentor has already created for her IPS outreach program,” Raje said. “At the moment we’re thinking of using her ideas and basically focus on adding a new element of peer mentoring to it, which is shown as a very effective way to help learn and digest information. We’re going to learn the material ourselves and try to connect with the kids and help them have experiences in the problem-solving and the skills and all the benefits with computer science.”
The purpose of this project is to get more people into the field of computer science due to its optimistic outlook in the future, according to Katy Voor, club member and junior.

“I’m researching coding and how we can somehow make that fun and spread awareness of it,” Voor said. “We’re also trying to get rid of the stigma that computer science is boring and make people more aware of what it is.”

Raje said she agrees with Voor.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 6.09.32 PMRaje said, “In general STEM jobs are on the rise and so it’s definitely a very profitable (field). Computer science is one of the fields that is expected to have the largest amount of jobs, but it’s also predicted that there’s not going to be enough college graduates with the skills required to fulfill those jobs. (We’re) trying to get people into it so that they will have financial security, and skills that are learned in computer science are also very useful in other disciplines as well.

In addition, Raje and Voor both said that although their program focuses on increasing interest in computer science in all students, there is some focus, in particular, on making girls more aware about the possible careers in computer science.

Raje said, “Obviously, there is a little interest in getting girls into computer science. As a way to relate the entire classroom, we want to help everyone, but then again it does attest to something that for the most part, most of the STEM club members are girls, and the fact that we’re the ones interested in this and we’re the ones who are teaching computer science to an extent is different and definitely emphasizes that.”

Voor said she agrees with Raje in this respect.

Voor said, “It’s important to get more girls involved in computer science because the modern world technology is always changing and computer science is going to have huge growth in the next few years.”

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