STEM careers offer opportunities for women, minorities

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Girls Inc. brings elementary students to lecture.

By V.L. Roberson

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Dr. Reagan Flowers, founder of CSTEM Teacher and Student Support Services Inc., encouraged an audience of elementary school girls Monday to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“STEM careers offer the most opportunities, and women and minorities are extremely under-represented,” she said.

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She spoke in the nursing complex in an event sponsored by the Black History Month Committee.

Among the about 50 people in the audience were elementary students brought by a local chapter of Girls Inc., a national organization that encourages young girls to succeed especially in STEM fields. The students were out of school for Presidents Day.

Flowers understands that for a career choice to be relevant to students in minority communities, the students need to see these careers in action.

“Many of these students don’t know what an engineer looks like, but once they can see one they consider it attainable,” she said.

CSTEM, gives grants to schools to train teachers in hands-on, project-based learning.

The former high school science teacher created CSTEM (Communication-Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) in 2002. It is the first integrated Pre K through 12th grade STEM enrichment program in the nation, according to her website.

“CSTEM is a connector for classroom learning. It connects the classroom to the real world through project based learning,” she said.

“We work across grade levels — elementary to middle, high schools.” CSTEM is currently available to schools in the Midwest and Southeastern U.S. They work with 42 schools annually split between the two regions.

“We give a $12,000 scholarship per school, and we provide resources, train and develop teachers,” she said.

Flowers moved from Detroit to a small town, Cleveland, Miss., during her formative years, and with perseverance transformed from average to an A student.

This, along her experience as an educator, led her to establish CSTEM.

“Fourteen years ago in April with her own resources she began CSTEM Teacher and Student Support Services Inc.,” said student support specialist La Quinta Dixon, who introduced her. The organization is based in Houston.

“Children were competing in STEM competitions and didn’t possess the vocabularies to communicate in the proper way so I knew that communication and literacy skills had to be integrated with the program,” she said, explaining the C in CSTEM.

Flowers has authored two books, “The STEM Challenge: A Feeder Pattern Approach to Reaching All Students through Hands On Project Based Learning” and “CSTEM Pedagogy: Your Guide to Project Based Learning.”

Her mission is empowering teachers and students through STEM.

Flowers’ CSTEM has grown from 20 students in 2002 to impacting nearly 60,000 students and generating nearly $5 million for its programs.

Flowers’ blog can be found at http://drreaganflowers.com.

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