Andrea Hence Evans is being honored as an African American STEM Champion of Change.
As a child, I looked forward to my school’s science fair each year. I couldn’t wait to put on my lab coat and my safety glasses. After all, I wanted to look the part. I would proudly march into the Houston Community College’s science lab with my sharpened pencil and lab notebook ready to conduct my experiment. The College’s science professor would supervise me as I would carefully follow the scientific method. I was anxious to create my science fair board because I wanted to share my results with my peers. My family knew the importance of exposing me to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at an early age. Unfortunately, many parents are not knowledgeable about the important role they play in peaking their children’s interest in STEM education and careers. Or, many parents do not have access to resources available to get their children the necessary exposure. My science fair experience had a profound impact on me and I attribute my hands-on science fair experience as one of the reasons I pursued and obtained degrees in Math and Civil and Environmental Engineering degrees at Spelman College and Georgia Institute of Technology, respectively. Studies show that STEM college students were inspired to study STEM subjects because of a teacher or class.
Studies also show that by the third grade, children have permanently lost their interest in math and science. At as early as eight years old, a student is already using the dreaded “B” word and science in the same sentence. The “B” word is every parent and teacher’s least favorite word…BORING! When my daughter reached kindergarten, I searched for an exciting and fun STEM class that would engage and stimulate her. I learned that there were several STEM classes for middle school and high school students, but I was worried that if my daughter was not enthusiastic about STEM before eight years old, there would be a slim chance of her regaining interest. Thus, in 2009, I launched KIDGINEER, LLC to inspire students to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math.
KidGINEER® is a creative and fun STEM enrichment program targeting students ages five to ten years old. The program is divided into six week sessions and we focus on exposing the students to all disciplines of engineering such as civil, mechanical, chemical, computer and electrical engineering, for example. At the end of each session, we invite an engineer to speak to our students about their roles and duties as it relates to the subject matter the students have learned for the session. Students as young as five years old have built robots that have sensors that react to motion and these students can effectively communicate the science behind their robots. I truly enjoy working with elementary students to expose and help inspire them to consider careers in science and engineering. It is always a heartfelt moment to see the immense joy on our students’ faces as they see their first robot work or wire their fans, doorbells, and ceiling fans in their personalized miniature houses. Our young students are more inspired to seek out STEM programs in middle and high school and they are more likely to pursue a career in a STEM field because of this early exposure. It is important that we provide our future generations with the capability to continue to lead the world. In a knowledge-based global economy, this means ensuring that our country can ‘out invent and out innovate’ other countries around the world. We owe our children this opportunity and I am proud that I can make a positive impact on them. Lastly, I am truly grateful to be recognized by The White House as a STEM Access Champion of Change!
Andrea Hence Evans is the Principal of KidGINEER, LLC, a STEM enrichment program in the Washington DC area. She is also the owner of an intellectual property law firm, The Law Firm of Andrea Hence Evans, LLC.