By Rogelio Alvarez
The East Los Angeles College Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program will implement new additions to their programs after receiving a $6 million grant. The STEM program was awarded the Jardin de Stem grant from the United States Department of Education in October.
The grant will allocate $1.2 million per year for five years and will help fund peer mentorships, supplemental instruction for STEM-related subjects, reading apprenticeship, a summer math academy, an aquaponics lab and expand research opportunities for students.
“If we offer supplemental instruction to students in the class, they will succeed better… we also found that a lot of students have issues understanding and reading a STEM textbook,” MESA/STEM Director Dr. Armando Rivera said. The reading apprenticeship program will assist STEM students with understanding their textbook by having faculty implement a reading component into their curriculum. “We will train our faculty on how to help out our students understand their science textbook,” Rivera said.
The ELAC STEM Program will also see improvements to its tutoring services and summer math academy. “The goal is to make it different from the academy we’ve had in the past. We’re going to make it shorter and a bit more math intensive. …. We want to expedite the foundational skills in Math,” ELAC STEM Counselor Marina Rueda said. According to Dr. Rivera, students that are paired up in mentorships are more likely to succeed in their classes.
Current STEM students will be paired with a peer mentor from a STEM discipline. It will be either STEM students who are already advanced and ready to transfer paired with beginning students, or we might pair them with students who have already transferred,” Rueda said.
Another addition to the STEM Program is a coding academy where students will have the opportunity to learn and interact with computer coding. With money from the grant, the ELAC STEM Program plans to create an aquaponics lab for STEM faculty from different disciplines to utilize.
An aquaponic lab is a process that raises aquatic life using the feces from fish to provide nutrients and to cultivate plants grown in water. “Students will be able to see realworld application of what they’re learning in the classroom,” Rueda said.
“We want to increase the number of ELAC students that successfully complete their degree here and also transfer to any four-year universities,” Rivera said.
Applications to join the STEM Program are available at the beginning of each semester. For more information call (323) 780- 6730, or visit the ELAC MESA/ STEM offices in E7-210B.