WCC offers free workshops to help middle schoolers develop STEAM skills

Washtenaw Community College (WCC) has relaunched a series of free monthly classes designed to engage middle school students in fun and interactive science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) activities. 
WCC faculty will lead the interactive virtual monthly workshops, called Super STEAM Saturdays. The events are designed to expose students and their families to the wide world of STEAM career fields, and to help students begin to foster STEAM skills before they enter high school.
"We want everyone to be able to apply to these classes regardless of their social and/or economic status," says Susan Dentel, director of WCC's STEM Scholars program. "That is important for community outreach."
Even though the program is intended for middle schoolers, it has accepted younger students and high school students as well. The series started in 2019, although Dentel says it "didn't have a lot of marketing" at that time. In spring 2019, Dentel also led a mother/daughter science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training session in which moms and daughters built engineering widgets together. 
"I wish during my time [in school] that there was someone like Dentel, who is so dedicated to these students," says Victor Vega, WCC's dean of math, science, and engineering technology.
Dentel has a special relationship with Ypsilanti District Library staffer Kelly Scott, who can reach out to high-risk students who may not otherwise be able to attend these virtual classes. Dentel works with Scott to set students up on computers at the library to take the Saturday classes. 
Dentel stresses that middle school students need to see themselves in STEM fields at an early age before they enter high school. STEM jobs earn higher salaries than non-STEM jobs, and the average entry-level salary for a STEM job is $66,123.
"There is so much untapped potential in our country with students," Dentel says. "Diversity on all levels – race, economic, and gender – all contribute to innovation and creativity. Bringing everyone to the table is important."
Additional info on upcoming classes is available here. Additional information about STEM at WCC is available here.
Monica Hickson is a freelance writer currently based in Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in 2020 and is the author of a book, "The COVID Diaries." You may reach her at monica_alexis@yahoo.com.

Photos courtesy of WCC.
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