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Helping Minority Populations Gain Exposure to STEM Education

Juan Lozano, Washington STEM Teacher of the Month.

Juan Lozano started teaching computer science in the Highline School District to combat the inequality he saw as a computer science professional. “Coming from the industries,” he explains, “I saw the lack of access for a lot of underrepresented minorities in computer science and in the technology field.” As Lozano describes it, his goal was to “bridge that gap.”

Some kids don’t enjoy the problem-solving and critical thinking involved in computer science, but Lozano believes that every student should have access to the information and an opportunity to try it for themselves. He'd “rather have a kid go through the whole process and then say ‘You know what, this isn’t for me’” than have them never be exposed to computer science in the first place.

Working at the Academy of Citizenship & Empowerment, a high school in SeaTac, Lozano had many students originally come in reluctantly accepting the spot in the class and then later figure out “this isn’t just computer science, it’s about technology and problem solving” and become much more interested in the subject matter.

Lozano believes that kids naturally enjoy engaging with technology and solving problems, and computer science turns that affinity into opportunity. Instead of being told to “sit and get” information, kids in computer science classes are given a problem and empowered to come up with a solution. Later, they look back and describe the process they used.

At the end of the day, Lozano believes that teaching STEM subjects is all about purposefully and meaningfully integrating tech to instill the skills that will be prized by next-gen employers: collaboration, communication, problem solving and critical thinking.

CenturyLink is a global communications hosting, cloud and IT services company committed to strengthening and improving the communities it serves. CenturyLink focuses its philanthropic and volunteer efforts on K-12 education programs that support technology-focused initiatives. Learn more about CenturyLink here.

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