Silicon Valley Companies Encouraging Local Student to Aspire for High-Tech Jobs

Internships, contests and engineering coursework give teens from the area’s majority-Latino high schools an entree to STEM careers. 

Most students at the high school, on San Jose’s East Side in the southern end of Silicon Valley, are from Mexican immigrant families. Nearly all will be the first in their families to go to college; some will be the first to complete high school. The kids who grow up in Silicon Valley’s Latino neighborhoods, the children of groundskeepers, janitors, cooks and construction workers, rarely get a shot at high-paying, high-tech jobs. Just 4.7 percent of the Valley’s tech professionals are Latino and 2.2 percent are African-American, according to 2015 data from the American Community Survey. By contrast, 57 percent are foreign-born, with many coming from India and China, a local industry group estimates.

Silicon Valley STEM

FIRST Championship About Way More Than Robotics

It’s about the lessons it teaches its students, the empowerment it creates for its teachers, and the love of learning it fosters among all involved. FIRST Championship is the shining example of everything FIRST values: teamwork within and between teams; learning and on-the-fly problem-solving; “Coopertition®,” which is what we like to call displays of unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition; and “Gracious Professionalism®,” which encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and shows respect for everyone.

FIRST Championship is an incredible experience with many lessons, but there are three that can be applied to every classroom.

1. It’s not about winning—it’s about the journey

Competition is about so much more than who comes out on top. True winning means we’ve inspired a real love of learning in our students, teaching them to solve problems, work collaboratively, and communicate with others. Most important, it teaches them humility and resilience in the face of failure, and the innovation and creativity they need to overcome these obstacles. Our students frequently tell us they leave our program as very different people than when they joined. They transform from timid to confident leaders, from hesitant to adept engineers, and it’s a pleasure for us to watch them grow.


Innovation Lab Program Emerged from International Baccalaureate Authorization

A collective effort by the academic leadership team of the Solomon Schechter Day School of
Bergen County, the development of our Innovation Lab program emerged from our pursuit of
the International Baccalaureate(IB) authorization. As part of that effort, we introduced a design
thinking course in our middle school and hired a part-time design thinking faculty member.
 
Andrew Katz, our Director of Academic Affairs joined the school in mid 2017, bringing with him
experience in design and building innovation labs at two previous independent schools. Once we
created our vision for the program, we were fortunate enough to receive a donation from an
alumni parent, which enabled us to turn our vision into a reality. We then quickly turned our
focus to hiring an experienced director of the lab, and together - along with our science team,
librarian, and educational technology team -  began concentrating on developing a robust
curriculum, designing the space, and focusing on interdisciplinary integration across the school.
 
Our team also visited and initiated relationships with community maker spaces, such as the
Maker Depot in Totowa, N.J., which have offered advice regarding 3D printing and
demonstrated potential tools that will further inspire our design courses.
Solomon Schechter NJ