Tristan Andrew, an 11-year-old Yup’ik from Anchorage, is only in sixth grade but is already taking steps to jumpstart his STEM career. Like many middle school students, Tristan enjoys playing video games like Roblox and Fortnite with his friends. However, it isn’t all fun and games for Tristan, who dreams of becoming a computer programmer. Learning about these video games helps him prepare for his future career and this summer, the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program gave Tristan his first taste of life as a STEM Professional.
At ANSEP’s Middle School Academy, he learned how computers work at a computer build activity, led by ANSEP staff and industry professionals.
“Initially, I thought we were going to build a box computer but then I saw the monitors and realized we were building a Windows 10 computer,” said Tristan. “We learned about all the different parts and how they come together to make the computer function. It was really exciting!”
Not only did Tristan learn how to build the computer, as an added incentive to the component, he also gets to keep it, provided he stays on track to finish Algebra 1 and Geometry before eighth grade. Another part of of Middle School Academy Tristan really enjoyed was the balsa bridge build.
“It was surprising how complicated it was to build the balsa bridge. It took us several tries but the ANSEP teachers helped us use teamwork and problem-solving skills to figure it out,” said Tristan.
Now that summer is over, Tristan is back to school at College Gate Elementary where math and science are his favorite subjects. However, he is already looking forward to spending next summer with ANSEP.
“I learned so much at Middle School Academy that I want to return next summer for STEM Career Exploration,” Tristan said. “At the coding component, students learned to code and operate drones and took 3D modeling courses. That’s how I want to spend my summers!”
Although the computer build was Tristan’s favorite part of the component, he also enjoyed being surrounded by peers who share his love for math and science. The students even experienced the college lifestyle by living on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus for two weeks.
“I made so many new friends through ANSEP and living in the dorms made me feel like a real college student,” said Tristan. “Thanks to ANSEP, I’ve started envisioning the next steps to my STEM career and the role education plays in achieving my goals.”
For Tristan and many other ANSEP students, Middle School Academy is the first step toward a STEM Career. We look forward to seeing Tristan next summer and can’t wait to see where his STEM dreams take him!