Originally published by Mississauga News on June 16, 2015
By Jason Spencer
Monmouth County, NJ – In the education world, the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is becoming a commonplace term.
Sound familiar? Sure. But, have you heard of STEAM?
Well, the ‘A’ is for arts and a New Jersey-based organization is bringing the right brain into the conversation through a unique online course that trains youth to be science writers.
And Mississauga’s Andrei Grovu is the first Canadian chosen to take part in the Curious Young Writers program, which kicked off earlier this month.
Throughout the next year, the St. Jerome Catholic Elementary School student will be among 21 other youngsters who will learn the craft from completing webinars with a communications mentor and a professional scientist in fields such as biomedicine and genetic research.
“We give (participants) the training and the skills to be able to write their own stories in a way that is accessible to a general audience,” said Jayne Mackta, Curious Young Writers creative director.
At age 13, Grovu is the youngest person selected for the intramural program – which requires applicants to undergo an extensive screening process.
“He’s an amazing young man. He’s got tremendous enthusiasm and curiosity. He has all of the elements that we have identified that would make him an ideal participant,” she said of the promising wordsmith.
“He’s shown a lot of leadership ability in the groups that he’s been participating in.”
Now in its fourth year, the program is geared toward high school-aged students and currently features precocious scribes mainly from the New Jersey area as well as New York and Maryland.
Curious Young Writers is free to participants and is hosted by States United for Biomedical Research, a consortium of non-profit research advocacy groups across the U.S. Mackta, a retired English teacher, was president of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research for two decades.
She said the initiative is also affiliated with the nearby Monmouth University.
Noting that “scientists are not great communicators themselves,” Mackta hopes the program will someday become available on the national level.
“We’re taking it one step at a time and we do believe that we’re on to something big and important,” she said.
“If young people don’t get it, and they don’t really know how to talk about science and it’s impact on our world and the future, I think we’re all in big trouble.”
Visit curiousyoungwriters.org to learn more.