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Aera in the Community Feb 11, 2021

‘Full STEAM ahead’: Ford Dimension students promote STEAM education in Dream Builders program

While developing leadership skills and practicing service over self, the program’s participants have a little fun too

Every year, 32 students from Kern County high schools develop leadership, career and life skills while taking part in a project that puts ‘service over self’ into practice—through the Jim Burke Education Foundation’s Ford Dimension and Dream Builders program.

The program is supported by employee advisors from four local companies, including Aera Energy. This year, Team Aera’s eight student leaders created a “Full STEAM Ahead” video to introduce Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) to younger students in the third through sixth grades.

“We wanted to provide them with a fun way of learning about the different aspects of STEAM,” said Team Aera member Joachim Ma, a senior at Bakersfield’s Highland High School. “Maybe it will inspire them to learn more about it and perhaps even pursue a STEAM career in the future.”

The video is presented as part of a “Full STEAM Ahead Virtual Science Webinar” series, which features two live events. Participants in the virtual event picked up materials to complete their own science experiments at home, at a COVID-safe drive-thru event prior to the presentations. The first webinar drew more than 78 participants. With the overwhelming interest in the first event, Aera donated an additional $500 so Team Aera could buy more supplies for a second live event, which was scheduled a few weeks later.

Joachim Ma, a senior at Bakersfield’s Highland High School, stars as “Sid the Scientist” in Team Aera’s “Full STEAM Ahead” video.

Joachim Ma, a senior at Bakersfield’s Highland High School, stars as “Sid the Scientist” in Team Aera’s “Full STEAM Ahead” video.

Team Aera students pose for a photo. Pictured (back row left to right) Juan Ayala (Mira Monte High School), Jake Dougherty (Centennial High School), Makenna Pollema (Bakersfield Christian High School), Joachim Ma (Highland High School), Isabella Caputo (Bakersfield High School), Isaac Larroque (Ridgeview High School); (front row left to right) Shivreet Dhillon (Independence High School), and Reese Renz (Liberty High School).

Team Aera students pose for a photo. Pictured (back row left to right) Juan Ayala (Mira Monte High School), Jake Dougherty (Centennial High School), Makenna Pollema (Bakersfield Christian High School), Joachim Ma (Highland High School), Isabella Caputo (Bakersfield High School), Isaac Larroque (Ridgeview High School); (front row left to right) Shivreet Dhillon (Independence High School), and Reese Renz (Liberty High School).

“These students are amazing,” said Lowell Pollema, manager of technology for Aera’s west coast projects team, and a Team Aera advisor. “They come from different schools, get to know each other and very quickly learn how to work together to tackle a project. This is a great opportunity to develop young leaders.”

Ma said he hopes to be a pediatrician one day. He said the opportunity to network with student leaders from different high schools in the midst of a pandemic is an experience he will never forget.

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