Nazir, Grade 5

“STEM taught me how I can help the world”

Ten-year-old Nahzir can talk endlessly about videogames – especially Minecraft, a game that teaches children how to construct new worlds, giving them a sense of the spatial awareness that is so crucial to the engineering profession.

Nahzir and his friends were first introduced to Minecraft when they started attending BGCN’s afterschool program featuring workshops in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (STEM).

The STEM room at BGCN is filled with Samsung tablets programmed with games that push our members to think about the world in an integrated fashion using math, science and technology. As Marie Redell, our STEM educator explains, “It’s not just about the individual subjects, it is about how children can use principles from all the STEM fields together to come up with real solutions to so many of the problems we face in the world today.”

Recently, Redell challenged our members to come up with a STEM-based solution to a problem that they have witnessed in their community of Newark. Nahzir and his two friends, Vaughn and Detres, decided that they wanted to address the major rat infestation that plagues the city. So, they envisioned a robotic snake that could be programmed to eat rats, without harming humans.

Nahzir and his friends went on to build a cardboard model of this snake, and make a stop-motion film that explained the process by which the snake would deal with the rat-problem. As the children continue to advance their skills in robotics, Nahzir hopes to build a functional robotic snake – even if it isn’t quite ready to eat rats just yet!

Nahzir, pausing to reflect on his STEM experience says, “STEM taught me how I can help the world.” He elaborates, “I want to learn how to build apps. I want to build a game that shows a brave warrior helping out average citizens, so that people can learn from him.”

These are the types of meaningful experiences we strive to provide our members at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, so that they can grow up to be the future leaders of our community.