Rhyan Moseley, a rising eighth-grader at Lexington's Carter G. Woodson Academy, has spent his summer in a program at Kentucky State University focused on topics including computer coding and programming, mathematics and game design.
Rhyan is one of 150 black male students from Frankfort and Lexington middle schools gaining experience with advanced technology through a program designed to inspire minority males to explore opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
Rhyan, 13, said that as a result of the program, he is considering writing Fayette County school board members "asking for a 3-D printer for my school."
Called Minority Male Maker, it's a two-year program created by Verizon and launched this month at KSU with a $400,000 Verizon Foundation grant, said Lauren Love-Wright, region president for Verizon Wireless. The program seeks to empower minority men by giving them technology and entrepreneurship skills. Ver izon hopes the young students will become makers of technology, not just users.
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"It's going to help me decide my future career," said Rhyan.
Students recruited for the program were from schools including Bondurant Middle, Elkhorn Middle and Frankfort Middle in Frankfort, and Carter G. Woodson Middle, Crawford Middle and Edythe J. Hayes Middle in Lexington.
KSU is one of four historically black colleges and universities in the nation offering the program. Students have attended all-day technology classes for four to five days a week since July 6; the three-week program ends Friday,
The students also are being mentored by minority college students. Derrick Gilmore, who as director of KSU grants and sponsored programs is heading the STEM program for the university, said the students were learning about 3-D printing and app development. Subjects they cover range from health sciences to engineering, he said.
Jalen Crute, 14, went to Edythe J. Hayes Middle School last year and will attend Henry Clay High School in the fall.
Jalen expects he will be able to use the engineering skills he learns in the program in his high school classes.
During the 2015-16 school year, the students will participate in additional sessions once or twice a month that will include mentoring and support. Changes in students' academic performances will be tracked.
"Combining hands-on technology experience on a college campus with focused mentoring from role models who look like participating students can be a difference-maker for these aspiring young scientists and engineers," KSU President Raymond Burse said.