Ramon Benavides and Raquel Miranda
Wednesday afternoon, officials with the Society for Science announced the names of 66 stellar educators from across the country, including two teachers from El Paso who will receive a stipend and support to help guide their students in scientific research.
Ramon Benavides of Del Valle High School and Raquel Miranda, Project Youth 4 Youth International,both received $3000 as Advocates for Science.
Throughout their one-year terms, these dedicated Advocates will encourage at least three to five students — who identify as a race or ethnicity historically underrepresented in STEM — in science and engineering research and help them enter those projects into competitions.
“Our duty as advocates is to deliver a message of change to students, teachers, educational leaders, and policymakers in hopes of seeing a shift in the current paradigm, thus ensuring underrepresented students attain a fair chance at success in STEM professions,” Benavides shared.
The Advocate Program uses a tiered mentorship model, where teachers are not only mentoring their students and raising future generations of scientists and engineers, but they are also mentoring, learning from and evolving supportive relationships with each another.
Advocates will further develop their science research programs in another unusual year, connect with professionals in the science community and meet like-minded teachers who value authentic student research and the educational opportunities that science competitions offer.
“I believe the completion of an independent science research project is one of the many available tools for better shaping our society; it empowers the students, it creates opportunities for shared knowledge and question-asking; it can develop valuable links between a budding researcher and a potential academic/scientific institution, through the paths of mentorship and guidance,” Miranda said.
“As a woman, from an originally limited-resources setting in Brazil, who, despite the challenges girls my generation have been exposed, the ability to have risen within the STEM field, give the a distinct perception of how important it is to an early start in independent research. Now, it’s my time to give back to the society who helped me advance,” she added.
To date, Advocates have supported more than 4,000 students during their participation in the program, of which, 3,076 students have successfully competed in at least one science research competition. During the 2020-2021 cycle, approximately 80 percent of student mentees participated in science competitions at the local and/or national level.
Students of Advocates are responsible for over 5,000 unique competition entries, with many students entering more than one competition. Ninety percent of those students are from low-income households and 70 percent are of a race or ethnicity underrepresented in STEM.
Other teachers in Texas who were accepted into the program include:
· Laura Alberici da Barbiano, Blanson CTE High School (Houston, TX): $3,000
· Dallas Bergstrom, Miller Career & Technology Center (Katy, TX): $3,000
· Leslie Cannon, The ATLAS Academy at Tennyson Middle School (Waco, TX): $3,000
· Priscilla Martinez Fuentes, Homer Hanna Early College High School (Brownsville, TX): $3,000
· Jessica Menchaca, Del Valle ISD (Del Valle, TX): $3,000