How A Middle School Is Making STEM Careers More Attainable For Its Diverse Students

For 4 school years, STEM For Kids has been working diligently with the Lawson Academy by customizing programs to focus on the Maritime sector to make vital STEM career connections for the students.

How A Middle School Is Making STEM Careers More Attainable For Its Diverse Students

Raleigh, NC USA and Houston, TX USA 3/11/2024

“Our students are primarily African-American and for them, careers in STEM seemed unattainable before we began working with STEM For Kids,” says Cheryl Lawson, the Superintendent of The Lawson Academy in Houston, Texas.


The Lawson Academy is a public middle school established in 2002 by Reverend Bill and Mrs. Audrey Lawson to meet the critical academic and social development needs of inner-city youth. 


“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”, Rev. Bill Lawson had said.


Today, the academy serves students from many different school districts, including Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD and others, to prepare their diverse student body with life and career readiness skills in STEM. 


Diversity is America’s unique advantage in science and technology, as per the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. Upon the release of report Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities 2023, by NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics ( NCSES), Mr. Panchanathan had said, “Our global leadership depends upon diversity, leveraging different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view to bring unique insights to problem solving and discovery.”


For 4 school years, STEM For Kids has been working diligently with the Lawson Academy towards that goal. 


“At STEM For Kids, we have been paving the way for engaging diverse students since 2011. Our innovative lessons and 4-dimensional method are designed to make STEM fun and real while energizing the entire community,” said Moni Singh or Ms. STEM, a STEM education pioneer and Founder/CEO of STEM For Kids. “It’s about the children, their learning and also about their parents, teachers and the local community whose future they represent,” says Ms. STEM.


As the engagement progressed, STEM For Kids’ curriculum experts customized programs to focus on the Maritime sector to make vital STEM career connections for the students. Why the maritime industry? Because it is an important job sector for the local communities in Texas served by The Lawson Academy bringing in $450 billion in economic activity and supporting more than 128,000 direct jobs in Texas per the Texas Department of Transportation.


The collaboration has been helping students gain experiences in many STEM skills including website design, computer programming / coding, and entrepreneurship together with real-world connections and social emotional learning. 


During fall 2023, a group of about 30 middle-school girls were tasked to research pollution in waterways, the maritime industry’s work to minimize such pollution, and to devise solutions that their family, school, and community could implement to contribute towards minimizing pollution.


After months of engaging hands-on STEM learning, the middle-school girls presented their findings and solutions to a group of peers, teachers, administrators, and parents showcasing their learning, research and recommendations. 

For this group of 30 students, their STEM journey involved:

  • Researching careers such as Maritime Engineers, Marine Biologists and Naval Architects.
  • Learning the technical aspects of how to create a website from scratch. 
  • Developing compelling messaging and structuring the information on their websites. 
  • Practicing interpersonal skills like communicating with peers, and working in teams while helping each other. 
  • Contributing to their community with a  focus on empathy, respect, compassion, diversity, and inclusion while exploring healthy empowered citizenship.


Here are a few highlights from the student presentations:

“The ocean covers over 70 percent of our planet’s surface, and these bodies of water are a major target for pollution…,” said Lotoria.

“The next big step we need to [take is] how we are going to try and stop [pollution]… The only reason I said try is since most people either don’t agree or just don’t care about our Earth…,” remarked Corrie.

“[To minimize pollution at school]… Reuse school supplies instead of buying new ones… Invite do-it-yourself [experts] to come in and teach students how to repair toys and clothes… [what] the Maritime industry can do to minimize pollution… Proper waste management… Reduce emissions… Prevent oil spills…,” stated Taryn.


“… we have watched as our middle-school girls (and boys) have experienced web design, programming, and entrepreneurial approaches to phone applications that they created.  Nothing we can do in the lecture-mode of instruction is as effective or as engaging as the … learning that STEM for Kids has provided to our school.  We have found that what was at first unattainable is becoming the career direction for students at The Lawson Academy.  Thank you, STEM for Kids, for all you do to help us grow strong women in STEM.,” says Ms. Lawson.


“Mission driven towards impacting STEM education for all, our work continues…” added Ms. STEM. 


The students’ showcases of their presentations are available for viewing here. 


Schools, districts and communities interested in bringing similar innovative career-connected STEM programs to their students, can learn more and apply for STEM For Kids’ educational services.



STEM For Kids® enables purpose-driven educators and entrepreneurs to bring life- and career-readiness skills to preK-8 children in their communities. 

With over 1500 hours of STEM activities in various themes covering engineering (aerospace, civil, mechanical, environmental, bio-medicine), technology (coding, robots, Artificial Intelligence, Internet Of Things), business and social emotional learning, educators, parents and students have a lot to get excited about. 

STEM For Kids® ranked #173 on the highly coveted Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list. With a growing network of STEM For Kids® operators, educators, trained teachers, and franchisees, we have impacted numerous communities across the globe. Add your community now, 

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