Kirby J.

Kirby Jones

Raleigh, NC

Smart is What's Up!

Smart is What's Up!

There is a known gap in STEM education between American children, and children from many other industrialized nations. When at risk, and socio-economically disadvantaged children are examined as an isolated group, the gap is overwhelming. When I began to examine the statistics related to this issue, I was motivated to try to do something to help. My desire was to help children to become more proficient in math, science and technology; and to somehow prepare and motivate them to go to college and pursue an education in STEM.

I have connected young people to the world of STEM through developing and founding a non-profit organization, The Daniel Center for Math and Science. The Daniel Center is an after school and summer program that seeks to narrow the STEM education gap for at risk, and economically disadvantaged kids, ages 5-12. This program is within the framework of a licensed school age childcare facility. This gives us the opportunity to teach and tutor these children specifically in STEM education for an extended period (months and even years). The Daniel Center introduces children to the immense opportunities in STEM through a curriculum that is activity driven, inquiry based, lively and fun. Another component of our program is a strong connection with local businesses and industries that are STEM based. These businesses provide invaluable field trip opportunities, whereby, our kids can experience STEM in the real world. Employees of these businesses also come to our location and speak directly to the children about what it is they do, and how STEM education paved the way for their personal success. The Children in our program are making great strides, both academically, and in their attitudes toward STEM. After having their children in The Daniel Center this summer, several parents have commented how much better the beginning of this school been for their children, in comparison to previous years. The children are beginning to embrace the need for education, and the opportunities STEM education provides. The Daniel Center’s motto, “Smart Is What’s Up!” has become the favorite saying of our children!