An innovative Black youth outreach program run by McMaster Engineering is igniting passion for STEM education.
The Black Outreach STEM Series (BOSS), a program that combines culturally relevant topics and memorable educational experiences into STEM workshops, launched in April and has gained traction with local high school students. More than 1,200 students have already participated in BOSS, using technical and creative skills on practical applications like creating hair oil and developing mini keyboards.
“It’s truly important for our students to be able to have access to opportunities like BOSS where they can explore the STEM world,” says Nicollette Bryan, York Region District School Board Graduation Coach for Black Students. “It’s important for Black students to have tangible experiences where they can see themself in spaces that may lack representation. We appreciate the BOSS team for developing this initiative.”
BOSS is the latest addition to a rich history of initiatives by the Faculty of Engineering’s Community Outreach unit, which strives to empower and engage Black youth in the community. Building on the success of previous outreach programs such as 2SLGBTQ+ support, all-girl programming and free after-school clubs, McMaster Engineering’s commitment to enhancing equitable, diverse and inclusive programming from toddlers to university students continues to expand its reach and impact.
“Our ongoing efforts at McMaster Engineering are centered around cultivating a sense of belonging, while actively promoting diversity and inclusivity,” says Leah Rosenthal, Associate Director of Student Recruitment and Community Outreach at the Faculty of Engineering. “The success of our Faculty is linked to the contributions of our diverse outreach initiatives such as BOSS, which actively involve Black youths, women, girls, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and other underrepresented, equity-deserving groups within our community.”
BOSS is the first step towards future possibilities for Black high school students. Its programming and the people supporting participants inspire students, nurture their curiosity and foster meaningful connections to STEM education. Educators and students alike have appreciated the opportunity to engage in barrier-free programming that acknowledges the challenges faced by Black youth. Participating schools have expressed positive feedback, recognizing the impact BOSS has on their students.
Thrilled by the program’s strong start, its leadership team is excited to see it grow and connect with more students. Looking ahead to Fall 2023, the team has ambitious expansion plans in place to extend the reach of the workshop in the community and inspire the next generation of young minds.
“We are incredibly proud of this program, and the response from the community since its launch has been wonderful,” says Sarah Alizerig, Community Outreach and Engagement Manager for the Faculty of Engineering. “As we continue to welcome more students into the BOSS program, we hope we can show Black youth across Ontario that engineering is for everyone and inspire them to pursue STEM in the next stages of their education.”
For more information about the McMaster BOSS workshop and its impact, visit their webpage.