Science & Technology:
The STEM Lab at Joseph George Community Center
The STEM Lab serves primarily middle school students in an after school program setting. Students age 8 and older receive homework support and participate in hands-on activities daily after school. The program encourages students to strive for higher education in order to pursue science, engineering, and technical careers. The project-based program includes participation in San Jose State University’s MESA (Math, Engineering & Science Achievement) program, Robotics, and Arduino programming.
This program academically engages students through hands-on multi-disciplinary projects and activities, encourages them to see the value of education, and motivates them to go to school and work hard to finish middle and high school. Students work individually and collaboratively in teams as they explore various activities and projects that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. This is the only fully equipped STEM Lab serving middle school students in East San Jose.
Students new to the program are introduced to the basics, including learning the proper use of various hand tools. A set of six initial projects teach the use of tools to measure, cut, drill, join, wire and layout projects, which are the basic techniques that are important for construction. Other hands on activities include electricity, magnetism, and simple chemistry experiments. These “qualifying projects” provide the means for students to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of specific skills.
After satisfactorily completing these projects, students are allowed to sign up for MESA projects such as: Crystal Growth, Popsicle Stick Bridges, Mousetrap Cars, and Trebuchet (catapult)
and/or LEGO or BotBall Robotics Teams
The number of students participating in MESA competitions increases annually, with student performance steadily increasing as well. In 2013/14, the program received the MESA Middle School Chapter of the Year Award
in honor of their “Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to the MESA Program.”
The Lab is located at the Joseph George Community Center and provides support to the science programs at Joseph George Middle School. The program also supports the Alum Rock School District’s MESA Programs, including MESA Program Advisor Mentoring, Project Review, lesson planning and staff development.
Retired Scientist Dr. Geroge Castro manages the STEM Lab, which is funded by the Castellano Family Foundation, the IBM Corporation, Allan & Judy Thompson, as well as several individual donors. Facilities are provided by the City of San Jose’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Services (PRNS) Department through a Re-Use agreement.