Special to The Dallas Examiner
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, is pleased to announce the launch of an educational and mentorship program – ConnecTEEN – to help combat the learning gap in North Texas and equip students with the tools to be knowledgeable, confident and motivated to pursue careers in STEM. In the United States, STEM jobs are expected to grow 10.5% between 2020 and 2030, and in Texas this number is even higher, almost 25%. Through programs such as this, the Perot Museum is committed to inspiring youth toward a lifelong love of science, in hopes of fostering one of the most talented and diverse STEM workforces in the country.
ConnecTEEN features monthly workshops as well as university campus and vocational school visits. Most importantly, with assistance from Lockheed Martin, the program offers mentor partnerships with industry professionals. Launched in January, the year-long pilot program gives high school students a remarkable opportunity to explore and deepen their interests and capabilities to flourish in STEM fields and prepares them with skills for the 21st century workforce.
“Real-life experience and exposure to industry professionals are of the utmost importance for these young people to achieve success,” said Dr. Linda Silver, Eugene McDermott chief executive officer of the Perot Museum. “Each of these mentors in the STEM industry understands the rigors and rewards of the profession. We believe these personal relationships will boost the students’ confidence and foster a relationship with a trusted advisor when navigating higher education and future careers.”
The program received an overwhelming response from students and staff at Dallas ISD’s Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy at James W. Fannin. Additionally, Lockheed Martin fully embraced the program, providing thought leadership in building the curriculum as well as recruiting 25 employees as mentors – a higher number than expected – who represent diverse STEM careers and different backgrounds.
“At Lockheed Martin, we understand the important role that mentors play in the lives of young people,” said Scott Greene, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “The mentoring partnership that we now have with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science allows our Lockheed Martin professionals to directly connect with many young people in North Texas. Together with their mentors, these bright students will learn what it takes to be part of the next generation of engineers, scientists, technologists, mathematicians, and most of all, dreamers.”
The program kicked off with a parent-education orientation and a STEM career immersion program for students. On March 4, students experienced the first of multiple monthly workshops, engagingly led by local university and business professionals. The topics focused on workforce development, college preparation, financial literacy, inclusivity in STEM, trade industries and more.
This year, students and mentors will visit local campuses including the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Woman’s University, and they’ll travel this summer to some of the state’s top public STEM institutions, including Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. The program will also host tours of trade and technical schools, including Dallas College’s Mountain View Campus, which offer a wealth of degree programs that lead to well-paying STEM careers.
Summer continues with intense STEM exploration of fundamental skills training, career visualization – beyond the stereotypical medical and engineer fields – and additional parent education to enlighten and address misconceptions regarding college applications and financial aid, paid vocational programs and other available resources.
After gaining valuable experiences, knowledge and relationships throughout the year, students will conclude the program in December, presenting at a culminating symposium.
“I am so thankful for our partners at Lockheed Martin and IDEA, who are committed to these students’ futures,” said Jessica Chavez, Chief Learning Officer at the Perot Museum. “Although this year is a pilot program, our hope is to really grow this program, and our goal is for 100% of these students to attend higher education and 75% to pursue a career in STEM.”
“As a transformation high school in Dallas ISD, the ConnecTEEN program at the Perot Museum has been an ideal partnership for our students. Allowing our students to learn more about STEM careers while also giving them valuable information on how to navigate the college process has opened so many possibilities,” said Raymie Venable, principal of IDEA. “The ConnecTEEN program has ensured that our students that represent a diverse selection of our community are aware of the possibilities before them as they navigate their post-secondary choices. We are eternally grateful to partner with the Perot Museum to offer this once in a lifetime program to our high school students.”
Plans are underway for next year’s program, which will launch in the fall.