Let’s Talk About Our Latino Kids in STEM Programs – Resources and Reasons

With lack of diversity in today’s technology industry, it’s even more important to ensure Latino, African-American and girls have access to STEM programs. As Latinos increase in population, the importance of Latino programmers, makers, and coders increases as well.

Learning to Code at SACodeJam QueMeansWhat
I’m doing my part to share about Latinos in the technology industry on this blog and on social media. But I can do more. One of my parenting goals is raise a bi-lingual multi-lingual boys and one of those languages must be coding. In order to get them to learn to code and create, I must have them involved in STEM programs early on.

What are STEM programs? They are learning programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Why should we get our kids in STEM programs? It’s not in hopes that they will become scientists or engineers (which would be great). It may even be more exciting if they became computer programmers  since it is speculated that by the year 2020, the U.S. will have an extreme demand for computer programmers but not enough computer science graduates. If we have hope for our kids’ futures, we must begin by ensuring our kids will have the skills needed for future jobs.

It is important to involve your kids in STEM programs because it is in these programs – mostly hands-on learning – that kids begin to understand how things work. Even our future writers, lawyers, doctors, etc. need to learn the basic workings of technology. Plus, in STEM programs, students learn how to build community by working with other, solve problems and create, create, create.

Our kids already LOVE technology – but mostly playing with it and not enough creating it. STEM programs are the beginning of creating technology.

So, as a parent, do you want to introduce them to STEM programs but don’t know how? Below are a few places to get started!

Help Your Kids Learn to Code – Two Free Online Courses

Hour of Code on Code.org Be sure to watch the inspiring video about coding! Code.org has various courses for almost any level, age, grade to begin to learn how to code. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: If your child’s school is not currently offering a computer science curriculum, Code.org has resources to help you advocate for one.

Scratch – Free online coding courses for ages 8 – 16. Younger students can participate but may need a parent to help out. It’s not just courses, though. It’s also a community. (This is where my son started earlier this year at a summer camp and now we do this at home.)

Help Your Kids Build and Create with DIY Robotics Kits

KitHub – Get hands on electronic kits for kids delivered to you! UPDATE: Now, you can also find classroom projects and curriculum for 10-week programs. KitHub was originally developed by Luz Rivas, founder of DIY Girls.

KitHub Monthly Subscribtion Electronic Kits

LittleBits – Create circuits with magnets to invent, well, almost anything! On this site, you can shop for your circuits as well as browse for creations that have already been completed. You will be amazed at what people can invent with this!

Lego Robotics – Through the Lego Education site, you can purchase Lego Robotics curriculum and projects online. There is also a yearly competition FIRST Robotics in which you could even compete. Anyone – student, parent, community member – can start a team according to their website.

Kano.me – Build your own computer! Everything you need to build and code your own computer comes to you in a box. You do the rest.

Minecraft – The object is to construct, not to tear down. It’s a video game, but it can also be classified as a building toy. This ever-popular game teaches kids much more than playing a game.

LOCAL RESOURCES

The above links are to online resources to get started. If you are in San Antonio, you may want to check out SASTEMIC. SASTEMIC is a San Antonio-based 501c3 advocacy group and connectory for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We are “the go-to organization for STEM in San Antonio.” 

Youth Code Jam is one of San Antonio’s best STEM education resources. Youth Code Jam provides innovative, impactful and family-focused out of school time, hands-on computing programs for K-12 students as well as teacher professional development designed to bring computer science to every school and every classroom.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

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