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Chicago Program Introduces Kids to Engineering

ALEXANDRIA, VA – For the first time in its history, the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) program will operate in Chicago. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) developed this free program in 2007 to raise the interest of underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in grades K–12, as an important step toward careers in engineering.

SEEK offers a diverse, hands-on engineering design curriculum that continues to expand annually. This summer, 150 SEEK students grades 3 through 5 will learn science and engineering concepts while engaging in team competitions during the program. The program will run July 7 to July 25 at the Miles Davis Academy. This year, participants will have an opportunity to “go green” by designing and testing miniature cars during a Gravity Cruiser Activity. SEEK mentors will guide and teach students using a curriculum supplied by the International Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

“We are excited that SEEK will make its debut in the city of Chicago,” said NSBE SEEK Director Franklin O. Moore. “The location at Miles Davis Academy on the South Side is ideal for the introduction of this program that encourages young people to consider engineering as a career option.” 

“I am proud to welcome the SEEK program to the City of Chicago, since this program will expand students' access to high quality STEM learning opportunities that will challenge them, expose them to new interests, and help them develop competitive skills for a 21st century economy” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The SEEK program complements our City-wide strategy to increase Chicago students’ access to a rigorous STEM education to prepare them to excel inside and outside the classroom.”

NSBE’s SEEK Chicago program is sponsored in part by the GE Foundation. This funding will go toward stipends and other expenses for collegiate members of NSBE who will serve as “SEEK mentors” at various sites in 11 cities this summer, including Chicago. GE representatives will also help mentor the NSBE collegiate mentors and judge weekly student competitions.

“GE Transportation is committed to solving the world’s toughest transportation problems and setting potential in motion for our customers, employees, and in the community.  Critical to that pursuit is ensuring that we cultivate the next generation of great engineers and problem solvers,” said Russell Stokes, President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Transportation.  “We are proud to partner with and sponsor SEEK’s Chicago summer program, which will impact hundreds of local students by providing mentorship, education and team building opportunities while instilling in them a passion for STEM career fields.”   

Mayor Emanuel is focused on a city-wide strategy to increase Chicago students’ access to high-quality STEM learning experiences from early childhood through college and career. The city-wide strategy will strategically bring together and direct educational, corporate, and philanthropic resources toward the shared goal of increasing STEM opportunities for Chicago students. With the support of multiple sectors, the strategy seeks to triple the number of Chicago students earning STEM credentials by 2018. There are currently five Early College STEM schools in the City of Chicago, which pair with corporate partners that provide mentors, internship, and feedback on the curriculum to teach skills that would be valuable at their companies.

“Systematic matriculation of rising 6th grade SEEK participants into NSBE Jr. chapters in the city of Chicago will showcase the power of collaboration by involving universities, NSBE Chicago Professional members, along with corporate and community-based partners,” said Virginia Booth Womack, the society’s interim executive director. “We want to make sure participants are actively engaged in the City of Chicago STEM initiatives as well as an ongoing math proficiency focus.”

On a recent appearance on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, Sossena Wood, NSBE’s National Chair commented that NSBE is passionate about exposing children and parents to the opportunity of STEM careers.  “Uniting young, passionate and gifted engineering students with a growing pipeline of elementary students with STEM interests creates a majestic moment,” she later explained.  “This natural mentorship is our organization's formula that empowers engineering students to positively impact their communities in a classroom setting.  ”

SEEK Chicago has also received support from the McDonald’s Corporation and BP. Chicago Public Schools will provide a free lunch to participating students. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Since its inception, SEEK has touched the lives of more than 9,500 young people. In 2014, SEEK programming will be held in Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Diego, Oakland, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Jackson, MS.

To register a student for the free SEEK program, please visit the website here. For additional information, contact NSBE’s SEEK team by e-mail at seek@nsbe.org, or visit www.nsbe.org.

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