Orlando Science Center, in partnership with Zebra Coalition, has received a $75,000 grant from Universal Orlando Foundation to develop and launch a new program called Catalyst. This mentoring and professional development initiative gives youth an opportunity to develop job-readiness skills and inspires them to pursue STEM careers.
Catalyst launched in August 2017 with a series of workshops provided to local school-sponsored Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) affiliates in Orange County Public Schools and at Zebra Coalition. Zebra Coalition was identified as the perfect partner because of its existing relationship with Orlando Science Center, close proximity to the Science Center, and strong relationships with local Gay-Straight Alliances.
GSA clubs at six local high schools — Dr. Phillips, Colonial, Lake Nona, Boone, Lyman and Lake Howell — will receive four hands-on STEM workshops led by Science Center and Zebra Coalition staff throughout the school year. These workshops will allow teens to explore 21st-century STEM skills through making. Topics could include coding, robotics, soldering and more.
Workshops emphasize the “Four C’s”: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. Participation can be a gateway to future possibilities for youth who haven’t had opportunities to explore potential career paths.
In the summertime, Catalyst will also offer internships to high-school students, recruiting from those who have participated in Catalyst through their GSA clubs. These internships will be developed in collaboration with Universal Orlando team members and include specific workshops on leadership skills, resume building, and career opportunities. Given the variety of jobs available at the Science Center, internship participants will be able to gain experience in fields such as exhibition design, science education, human resources, marketing, event planning, and operations.
To mark the launch of this new partnership, students who have already participated in the Catalyst program this year were invited to march with Orlando Science Center in Orlando’s Come Out with Pride parade on Saturday, October 14, 2017.
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