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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

STEM for Youth

A look at West High’s newest STEM for Youth club.
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Jodie Eilers
Shanza Sami ’26 gives a presentation.

As the 2023-2024 school year begins, new students, classes and clubs are being introduced to West High School. Take a look into West’s newest science club, STEM for Youth.

The club’s mission is to provide accessible STEM education to elementary students through interactive activities and presentations so that they become more involved and immersed in STEM. This club will have a good outcome on the students’s career paths in the future because it provides interactive early STEM exposure instead of reading out of a textbook or watching a video during class.

The club is run by Shanza Sami ’26, who was named one of America’s Top Three Scientists of 2022 and a finalist for the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Shanza’s interest in science research began from her Extended Learning Program (ELP) teacher, Mrs. Jodie Eilers, who introduced her to the activity. 

After receiving her title as one of America’s Top Three Young Scientists, Eilers invited her to speak at Borlaug Elementary and talk about her innovation to the students. After her presentation, Shanza explained how she found it compelling talking to young scientists and students who were interested in STEM.

I just found that it was really nice and like compelling to talk to young scientists and just like students that were interested in STEM

— Shanza Sami '26

Seeing how interested the students were by her innovation, Shanza decided to start her own club at West High that focused on teaching STEM to elementary kids through hands-on demonstrations and experiments. 

STEM for Youth operates by having high school students travel to elementary schools once a month. This year, Shanza hopes to give presentations at Weber, Borloug and Horn, as well as Wickham; this is still subject to change. The topics covered will rotate based on a specific curriculum. Topics include things like rocketry, Hour of Code, and micro:bit, plus more to come. She also plans to have topics that depend on the time of the year; for example, in April, there’s the lunar eclipse, so there would be a program based on astronomy.

In the near future, Shanza hopes to have guest speakers come and speak to the elementary students, like scientists and influential West alumni, which will spark a lot of interest in the kids. 

STEM for Youth’s advisor, Megan Bildner, ran a similar club at Pleasant Valley High School before coming to West High. Bildner will help prepare the students through surface-level training. Shanza explains that the curriculum is already prepared, so members will be taught how to present in front of elementary students and how to keep things interactive. She will also make sure everyone understands the material being presented to be prepared for questions asked by the students.

STEM for Youth is sure to be a hit at West High, considering the numerous individuals interested in STEM, bridging education gaps and making a lasting impact on communities. Meetings will be held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month after school, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Minna Abdalla
Minna Abdalla, Assistant Sports Editor
(she/her) Minna is a sophomore at West High and this is her first year on staff. Her job title on staff is assistant sports editor. In her free time she likes to go bike rides, play soccer and hang out with her friends.
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