Career aspirations can come from anywhere, including a love of ice cream.
"I had the pleasure of carrying out my first ever WE-STEAM activity at a United Way-supported local After School program in September. As a teacher, I try to use the first day of "class" to learn the name of each and every child. Instead of having the students introduce themselves in front of the group, I like to introduce myself to each child individually and make a personal connection.
I walked into a room of 31 children, ages ranging from 5 to 12. Amid this organized chaos, one student stood out to me. While most children were playing games in groups or using iPads, she was silently working on her homework. She seemed very sweet (and calm!) so I decided to introduce myself to her first. She told me her name was Meadow and that she attended the WE-STEAM program last year.
She immediately began asking questions about what activity was planned for the day. Her face lit up when she heard that we would be learning about the science of making ice cream. Meadow informed me that she loves baking and cooking but doesn't often get the chance to do so.
Inspire the Next Generation of Scientists
After the students finished their snack, we began the homemade ice cream activity. Although I was floating around the room and helping each group, I made sure to keep a close eye on Meadow. She was one of the first students to finish her batch of ice cream and she was extrememly impressed with how it turned out. As one of the older students in the room, she also turned to helping some of the other kids with their ice cream.
While Meadow was waiting to be picked up from the program, she spoke about the ice cream activity with such excitement and even told me that she dreamed of pursuing a career in baking or cooking. Meadow also expressed that her family really wanted her to go to University. I could tell from the look of concern on her face that she didn't know that she could do both. I shared a story about a cousin of mind who studied Biotechnology at the University of Windsor and is now working as a lead scientist at an ice cream manufacturer. Meadow was pleasantly surpised to learn that scientists were responsible for making ice cream!
As a passionate science teacher, I am a firm believer in STEAM programming and its ability to instill confidence and curiosity in kids. Luckily, I was able to make a meaningful connection with a student on my very first day. I could not be more excited to continue my journey with United Way and our partners, and hopefully inspire the next generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs right here in Windsor-Essex County."
-Manvir Shokar, WE-STEAM Program Coordinator
WE-STEAM is a United Way program which provides innovative and engaging Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programming to After School programs and summer camps in local priority neighbourhoods at no cost to participants.
The goals of the program are to increase confidence in STEAM subjects at school, help children develop social skills while engaging in fun activities, and spark young minds to the possibility of future STEAM-based career fields and 21st Century jobs.