STEAM club

Mountain View High School’s STEAM club, above, held programs during the pandemic to support students living in underserved communities.

During an unconventional year, schools, companies, sports programs and many other organizations have struggled to tackle the challenge of shifting their usual schedules to an online version that fulfills the same purpose.

As many have come to realize, it is quite challenging to mirror an in-person experience to a remote one. However, Mountain View High School students who are a part of a club called STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – have managed to not only adapt to the circumstances, but actually completely reorganize and improve their mission in the process.

The club, headed by incoming Mountain View High senior Yana Kim, establishes a curriculum based in a STEAM field to teach to young students living in underserved communities. Angelina Ma, another incoming senior at the school who serves as treasurer of the club, said STEAM has set clear goals for the club.

“We were really determined to put this idea to life because people have lost a lot during the pandemic … especially children,” Ma said. “We would love to give them the opportunity to do something fun during the summer still. That was our main goal.”

STEAM held two programs last year, one in the summer and the other in the spring. The summer program ran for one month, with children attending classes twice a week virtually. For each course, the students were split into five groups to make the lessons more personal.

“(The students) would have their own little group of 10 … and each session would have the same teachers,” Ma said.

In the spring program, held February to April, the students met online once a week. The students they teach are elementary-school children from less privileged backgrounds.

The team recently wrapped up their summer program for 2021, for which they added a second lesson each day as well as more activities with in-person options. The classes were available to students in second through fifth grade.

“Our target is low-income communities,” Ma said. “So, in the beginning of the process of putting together the programs, we would have people research schools and look at the percentage of low-income families at that school, and if the percentage was high, we would decide to reach out to that school.”

STEAM members would advertise their programs by telling the schools about them and asking school officials to pass the message along to the parents in that community.

Every step of the process, from designing the curriculum to teaching the children, is completely student-run. Each class consists of a lesson developed by STEAM members via PowerPoint or Google Slides, as well as hands-on craft activities to keep the students engaged with the material. Not only are the Mountain View High students devoting their time and energy to create the schedule, they are also assembling and delivering the materials for the hands-on activities in their classes.

“It’s a thing I’m very proud of because it takes so much work and time to pack all the material for each activity for each week for each individual student and then deliver it to them,” Ma said.