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The future depends on the STEM students of today. Right now, we are living through a global event that depends on STEM innovation to keep us working, studying, and being safe. The future has a lot of messy problems to solve—the consequences of climate change, preventing pandemics, and reducing carbon emissions, to name a few. These solutions will come from the students whose passion for science today leads them into STEM careers tomorrow.
We spoke with four students at Montgomery Blair High School—a STEM magnet school in Silver Spring, Maryland—about their studies, their STEM passions, and how they are working to change STEM for the better.
Michaella, 11th grade
Michaella grew up surrounded by science. Her parents are nurses, and they were in school when she was younger. She remembers being intrigued by their studies; she would often look over their shoulders as they studied chemistry and biology. As she got older, she felt drawn to the scientific process of experimentation.
“I consider myself to be a pretty inquisitive person,” Michaella said. “STEM allows me to make predictions and try to find creative ways to solve problems.”
“STEM allows me to make predictions and try to find creative ways to solve problems.”
She’s not just interested in STEM—she’s also interested in solving problems of diversity and equity within STEM. Michaella currently serves as the co-president of the Blair Society for Minorities in STEM. The club focuses on STEM advocacy and creating community for minority students. The group strives to provide a place for minority students to explore interests and opportunities.
“A lot of minority students in STEM might have feelings of inadequacy, and that’s valid,” Michaella said. “But those feelings shouldn’t dictate how you go forward in life.”
“A lot of minority students in STEM might have feelings of inadequacy, and that’s valid. But those feelings shouldn’t dictate how you go forward in life.”
Michaella hopes to follow her parents’ footsteps into health sciences, specifically biomedical engineering. She hopes to use bioinformatics to help folks who don’t have the same access to healthcare and technology as those in the United States.
Samuel, 10th grade
Samuel was drawn to STEM way back in preschool. Numbers and logical puzzles were what intrigued him at first, and that early interest developed into a passion throughout primary school. In third grade, he won the fourth-grade geography meet at his elementary school.
“Science was always my favorite subject,” Samuel said. “Taking a bunch of science classes, math classes, and computer science classes is how I stay happy.”
Samuel plans to pursue a path in medicine and become a heart surgeon. He has always been drawn to problem solving, so surgery felt like a natural fit.
“I’ve always been interested in the heart. I want to be able to actually save lives by fixing someone’s problem in their body.”
“I’ve always been interested in the heart,” Samuel said. “I want to be able to actually save lives by fixing someone’s problem in their body.”
Eventually, Samuel sees himself going into teaching. He has his younger sister to thank for this interest. “I love teaching people,” Samuel said. “I have a little sister, and I have to help her at random times. She might find it a little annoying, but I’m happy to help.”
Adalia, 11th grade
For Adalia, using logic to solve problems began her path to STEM. She loved math, and that passion was what prompted her to go to magnet STEM schools for middle and high school. At her middle school, she received the Michelle Wilson Award, and she was recently accepted into the International Honor Society. She is also a member of the Blair Society for Minorities in STEM. Because of the wide variety of science classes offered at Blair, her scholastic interests have expanded beyond math.
“Marine biology was a class that most high schools, I believe, don’t have,” Adalia said. “So I took the class and really enjoyed it. Classes like that are definitely fun, and it’s nice to take those classes.”
While she has yet to decide on a specific path, Adalia is certain her future includes STEM.
“I haven’t really narrowed it down into any specific topic, but I do wanna pursue a STEM career. Blair has helped me, like, given me more skills to allow this to happen, make this more of a reality.”
“I haven’t really narrowed it down into any specific topic, but I do wanna pursue a STEM career,” Adalia explained. “Blair has helped me, like, given me more skills to allow this to happen, make this more of a reality.”
Joshua, 12th grade
Joshua’s father helped foster Joshua’s insatiable curiosity for how things worked at an early age. His father got him a Snap Circuits kit, and he fell in love with experimenting with the circuits and figuring out how they worked.
“[The set] came with a book, but I ended up just playing around with it and figuring it out,” Joshua recalled. “It was just fun. I knew I wanted to become an engineer—just any type of engineer. And now, I’m on the robotics and solar car teams.”
“It was just fun. I knew I wanted to become an engineer—just any type of engineer.”
Joshua is the design lead for the robotics team, which means he’s in charge of using computer-aided design (CAD), managing the build schedule, and ensuring measurements are precise. “I like robotics and solar car teams because they both let you express your creativity and your ideas,” said Joshua.
Joshua’s passion for engineering and design is paying off. His team has won a number of local and regional competitions and were quarterfinalists in an international competition. He was recently accepted to Georgia Tech, and if he attends, he plans to join the robotics team.
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