STEM certificate program takes off at RCHS
By Lisa Nicklanovich
Nearly 200 Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) students attended the first meeting of the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) program in October. Three months later, the STEM certificate program has 250 students signed up who will participate in competitive clubs, complete internships and shadowing experiences and gain valuable knowledge and connections within their field of choice.
Kristi Piccone, chair of the STEM program, said, “The most important thing we can do is allow students to experience career possibilities. In these tough economic times, we need to look where the jobs are.” In fact, Piccone is responding to industry leaders in fields such as physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, computer science, and multimedia/video who want to ensure they have employees in the future.
Even though RCHS already offered many classes in STEM-related fields, the certificate program offers students guidance and opportunities that take them beyond the classroom. Through partnerships with companies such as Lockheed Martin and CH2M HILL, students are given shadowing and internship opportunities that inform and inspire them. Piccone said, “Students who attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine returned knowing they wanted to attend med school and how focused they need to be to get there.”
STEM students are also involved in exciting competitive organizations and clubs that challenge students on a national level. Examples include Cyber Patriot (a cyber defense competition), Chemistry Olympiad, and BioTech club.
With so many potential careers in STEM-related fields, it is no wonder the program is already expanding. RCHS is partnering with Shades of Blue in January to get kids excited about careers in aerospace and aeronautics, and Piccone hopes to expand opportunities in the biotech field by working with the University of Colorado’s Anshutz medical campus.