South Bay Teen Launches STEM Learning Program For Local Youths

LOS ALTOS, CA — A Los Altos High School senior has spent some of her time away from physical classrooms this spring sharing her passion for computer science with younger students.

Jessica Young, along with fellow Los Altos High students Alison and May, created a group that’s brought STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to elementary and preschool students.

Young launched STEMpower through the YMCA of Silicon Valley.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with younger kids and students.” Young said of her inspiration to launch STEMpower.

“I volunteered with lower elementary and pre-school kids before, and I wanted to do something to help the community, so I chose to bring these two passions together, science and working with kids.”

Daniel Koba, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley’s Youth Development, helped Young deliver the program to a large group of local youth through the Y’s youth development programs.

Young and her co-volunteers launched the project at the Almaden YMCA during the first week of February – right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

They’ve adjusted their program through Shelter-In-Place to continue supporting students.

“At first it was really disorienting because we didn’t know how to address even our normal lives,” Young said. “But once we realized how to balance school, homework and life at home, we decided to make STEMpower virtual to share with ElCamino YMCA campers.”

The students benefiting from the program through the crisis are youth whose parents or guardians are serving on the frontlines of the pandemic, while YMCA of Silicon Valley ensures their children’s safety and continued education.

Young plans to pursue a computer science degree in college and she hopes to inspire fellow students to achieve their STEM dreams through her program.

“The lessons are around an hour long, typically including 2-3 activities,” Young said.

“After each activity there is time for discussion, to let the students bounce ideas off each other and explore the concepts before moving on.”

This article originally appeared on the Los Gatos Patch