ST. LOUIS, MO.(April 29, 2019) – The Saint Louis Science Center’s Youth Exploring Science (YES) Program is proud to celebrate its 20th graduating class. The program works with teens from communities traditionally underrepresented in science-related career fields throughout their high school years to increase their interest in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).
The nationally-recognized YES Program was created in the late nineties by Carol Valenta, then senior vice president and chief scientific officer, and Diane Miller, the director of community outreach for the Science Center. The organization has long recognized that to achieve the vision to be a regional leader in connecting people with science, it is crucial to reach out directly to all populations, especially those who may not consider themselves to be participants in science and technology learning or visualize themselves pursuing STEAM-based careers. The goal of the award-winning program is for teens to work with the Science Center’s professional educators and STEAM professionals from the community to gain professional, academic and real-world skills that promote self-confidence and personal success to prepare them for careers in the 21stcentury economy.
“From operating flight simulators and flying drones in the aerospace component to building computers and troubleshooting IT issues as helpdesk professionals in the cyber security component, each area offers hands-on STEAM experiences and professional interactions that prepare the teens with real-world skills for their next steps toward career success,” said Siinya Williams, senior director of the YES program. “We have witnessed students grow throughout the program and go on to become scientists, engineers, electricians, medical professionals, researchers, teachers, and government officials. In fact, of our 37 graduates for 2019, 98% are pursuing STEAM-related majors in post-secondary education –this is our highest level in history.”
Since 1997, 1,135 YES Teens have graduated from the program. Brandon Bosley, Ward 03 Alderman in St. Louis, is a graduate of the program. “YES taught me the skills necessary to be able to maneuver in chaotic work environments,” Bosley said. “I learned to think critically at demanding times, and I utilize this skill every day.
The foundation of the YES program reaches well beyond its base at the Taylor Community Science Resource Center, located near the Science Center. Since its inception, the program has enlisted the support of community partners to gather ideas for the goals for YES and act as the resource for nominating teens to the program.
Williams added, “The community partners’ input was essential to meeting the YES program goal to prepare youth for the jobs of the future –jobs that haven’t even been imagined yet.
The YES program is key in the Science Center’s mission “to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.”
“Maintaining a balance between formal and informal learning experiences is of primary importance to the Science Center,” said Christian Greer, chief officer of science, education, and experience. “Through the program, teens not only further their own knowledge, but they also engage elementary-age students in STEAM. Our YES teens are emerging STEAM-literate citizens looking for new ways to share what they have learned in the program with others in the community.”
Major supporters to the Science Center and YES program throughout the years include: The Boeing Company, Emerson, Mr. Jack C. Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. John F. McDonnell, Office of Naval Research, St. Louis Community Foundation, The Crawford Taylor Foundation, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Dr. and Mrs. Philip Needleman, Mrs. Virginia J. Browning, National Science Foundation, MasterCard Worldwide, Norman J. Stupp Foundation –Commerce Bank Trustee, The Mysun Charitable Foundation, Enterprise Holdings, Mr. and Mrs. David P. Gast, Express Scripts, Inc., American Honda Foundation, Fox Family Foundation, Express Scripts Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc. and Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis. For a list of all supporters to the YES program, please visit slsc.org/yes.
Saint Louis Science Center
The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. Named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate in 2016, the Saint Louis Science Center features more than 700 interactive exhibits, as well as a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater, Boeing Hall and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, please visit slsc.org.