Blue Sky Reporter

Gliders? Gravity cruisers? Steel-can rovers? A large group of Chicago students is making these contraptions and more during a three-week program aimed at growing their enthusiasm for STEM.

Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, or SEEK, launched Monday in Chicago at Miles Davis Magnet Academy, a STEM-focused school in Englewood. About 150 Chicago third- through fifth-graders are attending the free full-day sessions through July 25. On Fridays, they’ll compete to see who has built the best gizmos.

SEEK began in 2007 in Alexandria, Va., headquarters of the National Society of Black Engineers, which runs the program. This year, the organization will host programs in 11 cities, including all-girls programs in Jackson, Miss., and Atlanta. The Society of Automotive Engineers International provided the curriculum, and volunteers from the Chicago NSBE Professionals chapter are teaching the Chicago program.

“Talent is really moving offshore, and we’re losing our global leadership as a country,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl Reid. “When STEM goes, so goes the country. The whole purpose of SEEK is to do just this thing: increase the readiness and the proficiency in mathematics.”