The CREATE program is often most known for its Robotics component, but it is in fact geared towards introducing students to the entirety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Create Academy, a five-week summer program, differentiates itself from other learning programs by its focus on exposing students to the kinds of possibilities and experiences in STEAM careers that they would otherwise not get. Students learn about scientific concepts through fun and creative activities alongside more familiar academic work in the mornings. In addition to STEAM exposure, students also grow in confidence and envision a brighter future for themselves as they are taught and mentored by young leaders from the community.
Waniya Bryant, Create Program Manager, is especially appreciative of the wholistic aspect of Create Academy. The most exciting part of the program, both for Waniya and the kids, is the showcase at the end of the five weeks. During this showcase, students get to display everything they did during the summer, which can include projects and talents as varied as dances and piano pieces.
Waniya has been a long time resident of East Palo Alto, and attended BCM’s programs herself when she was younger. She speaks of the conviction that this kind of experience and legacy has given her (while she keeps an eagle’s eye out for her little niece, who was barreling head first across the parking lot whilst rapidly consuming Cheetos):
“There’s one kid who was in the 5th grade when he started coming to CREATE, and is now going into 8th grade. Recently, an aquatics director at the YMCA (one of our partner organizations) told me about him passing his swim test, and his growth over the years. He was so tiny, and now he is our oldest kid! It’s amazing to watch their growth in many areas, and I’m so glad to share that some of them are now more enthusiastic about STEAM.”
Growing up attending BCM activities is a common experience for other leaders in the CREATE program. Yoyo, an intern with BCM, grew up attending Kidsmart and Streetworkz. She was also a Create Academy student, and found it so fun that she wants to now replicate the experience that she had for the next cohort of kids:
“I had a lot of fun here and I want them to enjoy it, enjoying it to the point that they're sad that it’s over. The teachers make learning really fun and interesting, and they have a different teaching style than at school. They're more creative in how they teach.”
Yoyo’s experience with CREATE motivated her to consider careers involving math, or even teaching: “I was a kid who shied away from math, but I found it useful and did the little quizzes and I remember wanting to keep learning math, and want to try better next time. I also want to come back as a teacher, and I want to create my own way of teaching. I might try out teaching as a career, who knows!”
Two other summer staff with CREATE, Ana and Sofia, lent some of their lunch time to speak about the creative teaching they received when they were participants. They particularly remember the “poop workshop”, which was a class about the digestive system where the kids took full advantage of asking questions about the mystical processes behind poop and pee. Besides these funny moments, they also recall overhearing the kids encouraging one another in their work and to do the right thing, exhibiting values BCM teaches.
As a classroom leader with CREATE, Sofia actually found the skills she learned from another BCM program, LiT, to come in handy:
“BCM helped me with my independence and my self identity, and helped me to step into a leadership role. I’m in charge of watching children and giving them instructions, and I can now put my foot down. I didn't know how to set boundaries before, or even acknowledge the need to set boundaries.”
These four leaders in this summer’s CREATE program are a testament to the value of CREATE—either as participants themselves when they were students, or as staff who are continuing to grow and invest in the next generation of community leaders. .