Newman Smith HS students launch elementary after-school STEM Circuit program

Two CFBISD high school students are taking their passion for education and discovery to the next level this school year. Christine Lee and Jaclyn Decherd, Newman Smith HS students, spent their summer developing a STEM Circuit program, designed to foster intellectual curiosity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the elementary level.

“We believe that learning is a continuous “circuit” ignited by intellectual curiosity,” said Christine Lee, STEM Circuit co-founder. “With support from teachers, researchers and parents, Jaclyn and I worked all summer to create an eight-week interactive program centered around scientific inquiry.”

Over the course of Christine and Jaclyn’s education, they witnessed first-hand their fellow classmates lose interest in STEM. This led them to create a program that would spark a desire for discovery at the elementary level, in hopes to continue the drive for STEM at the secondary level. This eight-week after-school program will be the first of its kind in CFBISD. During the months of September and October, high school students currently enrolled in STEM programs will volunteer with fourth and fifth graders at Furneaux ES. 

“We are privileged to be the first CFBISD school to host the STEM Circuit program,” said Lori Parker, Principal of Furneaux ES. “There have been positive responses from both students and parents, and we are excited to see the interests of our fourth and fifth graders expand over the next few months.”

Newman Smith HS students launch elementary after-school STEM Circuit program

In July, Christine and Jaclyn shared their proposal with CFBISD’s director of science, Christy McClain, to gather feedback regarding the logistics, funding and content for the STEM Circuit program. The proposal planned to implement an eight-week program and connect high school students with future STEM enthusiasts in CFB elementary schools. 

“As I listened to Christine and Jaclyn’s plan of action, I was blown away by their passion and dedication to the project,” McClain said. “Their mission and vision align directly with the goals of CFBISD STEM programming, which aims to inspire future leaders in STEM fields and increase STEM fluency skills in our students. I am excited to support them in their journey and cannot wait to see STEM Circuit expand throughout the district.” 

The students reached out to the CFBISD Educational Foundation in hopes to receive some funding to kick-off the program. 

“On behalf of the Educational Foundation, we are thrilled to present this special award to Ms. Lee and Ms. Decherd,”said Donna Wald, executive director of the Educational Foundation.

“It is so wonderful that these ladies are pioneers of the new program they have created,” said Carolyn Benavides, CFBISD board of trustees member and educational foundation board member. “I can’t wait to see the kind of impact this amazing program will make.”

On August 31, the students were presented with a check for 600-dollars from the Foundation during a special ceremony. Attendees included executive director of the foundation Donna Wald, board of trustees member Carolyn Benavides, Principal of Furneaux ES Lori Parker, director of science Christy McClain and Principal of Newman Smith HS Dr. Stephanie Jimenez.

Newman Smith HS students launch elementary after-school STEM Circuit program

“Jaclyn and Christine have worked hard to create this program for the young scholars at Furneaux elementary,” Jimenez said. “These brilliant, future leaders made a choice to serve their community. We tell our scholars every day to “make it a great day or not, the choice is yours,” and they have done exactly that. I am so proud of these amazing young ladies!”

To learn more about STEM initiatives in CFBISD, please visit the Spark STEM Academy website.