Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) joined with MdBio Foundation and Verizon Communications to introduce middle school girls from Prince George’s County to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills in a unique summer program. The Verizon Innovative Learning program launched in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) at five community colleges in 2017 and expanded to more colleges, including PGCC this year.
The college held two three-week sessions that gave the young girls the opportunity to learn about augmented and virtual reality, coding, 3D design, entrepreneurship, and design thinking principles in courses led by STEM instructors and a local business owner.
Sarah Engelhardt, a student studying chemical engineering and MdBio Foundation employee who assisted with the Verizon Mobile Lab, “really enjoyed working with the kids.” It was gratifying for her to connect with the girls and “let them know there is a place for everyone in the engineering community.”
According to Pewresearch.org, women remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce. The Verizon Innovative Learning program seeks to change these numbers by introducing girls at a young age to increase their interest in and expose them to skills that are vital for working in STEM related fields.
Some of the girls were already interested in STEM prior to the program, but the program did make some girls want to pursue the field once they get older. Olivia Bishop is one student who wanted to be a graphic designer prior to the program. Now she is considering a career in space exploration because she believes “it’s very cool to see how things on other planets work and what went on there before that we don’t know yet.”
Karine Lewis, another student who attended the program, thought it was “awesome.” She was excited to make a robot, something that she never thought she would do. The Verizon Mobile Lab, however, was her favorite part.
The mobile lab is a chartered bus that travels across the country to the site of the Verizon Innovative Learning Programs. It features an assortment of technology with which the students can interact.
On the mobile lab, the girls were able to experience an augmented trip to Mars, an activity that many of the girls said was their favorite part of the program. Oluwapelumi Bukoye loved that you could feel the bus shaking as the group ascended into virtual space to Mars. She plans to tell her friends that she had a great experience and that “they should try it out next year.”
About Prince George’s Community College
Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security (2015-2020), Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) provides high-quality education and training for the progressive and career-oriented residents of Prince George’s County. From new high school graduates and career seekers to more seasoned professionals and senior citizens looking to enhance their skillsets, PGCC is comprised of students who represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and goals. Serving nearly 40,000 individuals annually, the college is the first choice for higher education for residents of Prince George’s County. Collaborative partnerships, responsive degree and training programs, and a commitment to student success enable PGCC to address diverse education and workforce development demands. For more information, visit the college website at www.pgcc.edu. Prince George’s Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; (267-284-5000); www.msche.org.The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.