Alex and Leoma: The Pursuit of STEM
When you put your mind to the task, you can figure out how something works and imagine how it could work even better. You love exploring the unknown, and you thrive off of the “Eureka!” moment. This is the profile of Discovery Corps members—high school students who are pursuing innovation through Seattle's Pacific Science Center* youth education programs.
Discovery Corps teens Alex and Leoma are honing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). They have a few insights to share about what they've learned and what it takes to turn STEM enthusiasm into a rewarding career path.
Where did you find places to hone your STEM interests?
Leoma: “Attend your local job fair. I met a representative from the Discovery Corps at a job fair—she was there with a few hissing cockroaches. Although I was terrified of the roaches I still thought that what she was saying about science was cool. So I filled out an application. Almost three years later, I’m still here!”
Alex: “Look for not-so-obvious places to apply a STEM education. Very specifically, my career aspiration is to become an engineering manager for a major company in the technology industry. I want to have an influence on the world of technology. This interest has not always been in mind; however, the Discovery Corps has given me a taste of a wide variety of science fields and has allowed me to specify my particular interests.”
What skills will benefit you the most in a STEM class or career?
Leoma: “Creative thinking. You have to be able to think outside of the box when you need to. Sometimes taking an alternative route is even better than the route you originally planned. Also memorization. Learn to memorize and recall information. Repetition is something that has helped me very much over the years!”
Alex: “Critical thinking. To be able to both observe and evaluate the world around you and the decisions that you make, all with marked curiosity, is the only source of improvement. It is a skill that is truly invaluable in any career field.”
What resources have helped you advance your STEM education?
Leoma: "I look to Khan Academy for help with my physics and math classes. I never really used it until recently, but it’s become very beneficial to me, especially before midterms and finals."
Alex: “The World Wide Web. There are more and more websites and YouTube channels dedicated to inspiring interest in STEM fields every day—channels such as Vsauce and MinutePhysics. These sources certainly consume much more of my time that I would care to admit."
What challenges have you encountered on your career journey?
Leoma: “Organization. I have always been good at getting my things straight and in order, but I never really learned how to keep things in order after I get there.”
Alex: “The greatest challenge that I have had to face on my career path is learning how to overcome failure. I fell short of a variety of opportunities and expectations that I set for myself. I found, however, that overcoming such challenges is simply the task of acknowledging that there is always another path, and that sometimes it is best to surprise yourself with what you can do.”
What's your favorite invention?
Leoma: "Electricity. The light bulb, TV, and most cars would not have ever been a factor without electricity.”
Alex: "Computers. They've tremendously expanded humanity’s potential for growth, efficiency, and most importantly, for learning."