Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

New UT club STEM Buddies looks to bring science experiments to Austin elementary schools

Maya Kiselstein

Freshman year, at only their third lunch together, biology sophomore Celina Yang and biochemistry major Elizabeth Wu dove into the intimidating task of starting a club. Fast forward one year, the sophomores now run STEM Buddies, an organization that travels to elementary schools in Austin to give young kids hands-on STEM experience.

This fall, the young club plans to travel to Blackshear Elementary School and give students interactive science lessons throughout the school year. The lesson plans include how to make slime and elephant toothpaste, as well as coding basics and an introduction to engineering principles through building marshmallow and toothpick structures. 

Yang said she wants to use this club to shift kids’ perspectives on science.

“Sometimes STEM can be categorized as boring or a lot of work, but I want to show these kids that (it) can also be fun,” Yang said. 

Wu and Yang said they fondly remember science exposure in their younger years, which sparked the idea for the club. 

“I remember taking a science course and they would take us to NASA … We would also burn stuff on wood with magnifying glasses,” Wu said. “It was little excursions and really cool things like that.”

Wu said Blackshear, a liberal-arts-focused school less than two miles from UT, eagerly awaits their science lesson as the first group of students STEM Buddies looks to work with this fall.

“Blackshear is a liberal arts school, so they don’t have a lot of exposure to STEM” Wu said. “The principal was super excited because it is a great way for STEM to be introduced to these kids. She said the parents would be really excited about us as well.”

Aleah Henderson-Carter, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Integrative Biology, said she fully supports introducing STEM concepts to kids early on.

“Children ask really good questions,” Henderson-Carter said. “Their curiosity hasn’t been tampered with by their limitations … Often, questions coming from elementary school students can be really insightful and help scientists think about cool questions in a cool new way.”

As for club members, Yang said they look for passionate people who want to make a connection with the children.

“We’re open to anyone who’s really passionate about helping kids,” Yang said. “We don’t require them to be a STEM major or anything. We just ask that you provide the kids with a fun environment.” 

Hoping to add more schools to their schedule, Wu and Yang said they look forward to expanding the club and their reach in the upcoming years.

“I want to expand to two or three schools next semester,” Wu said. “Eventually, we want to incorporate it into other cities.”

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