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Nonprofit aims to show Black students the possibilities of careers in STEM

Nonprofit aims to show Black students the possibilities of careers in STEM
Nonprofit aims to show Black students the possibilities of careers in STEM 02:03

CHICAGO (CBS) -- By now, you've heard of the acronym STEM: science, technology, engineering and math.

STEM is a hot career path encouraged by many schools and organizations these days but minorities are still underrepresented in those industries.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside one approach to recruiting.

"This is how it is originally and this is how it came out 3D," said Nikayia Thomas, 17, holding an old stone hand ax and an iPad. She was practicing the digitizing of ancient artifacts and learning about 3D printed replicas. The hands-on exercise showed Thomas important roles that involve digital media skills within the scientific community.

"I've never seen a photo/3D type of thing -  or like making my own and designing it and editing it so it was pretty nice," said Thomas. "It made me want to learn more and explore more."

That was the point of her field trip to the Field Museum: a career in science doesn't need to only be about science.

For example, a physics experiment might need video production skills. A study of birds could involve art for a job as a scientific illustrator.

"I felt very connected, especially to the drawing. I've always liked drawing," said Laniea Strickland, 15.

According to U.S. Census data from 2019, less than 10% of people working in STEM fields are Black.

The non-profit "Teamwork Englewood" brought Thomas, Strickland and other kids from Chicago's South Side for a behind-the-scenes look at all sorts of combo-positions.

"We have youth that are interested in so many different things," said Avanii Hazzard, youth program manager for Teamwork Englewood. "There are so many different career paths and avenues that make up a career in science."

Hazzard hopes the special day of job shadowing brings to light possibilities for the future.

"To actually connect them, to actually expose them to what their real environment and career would be, what their day-to-day would look like in a sense is what we really kind of wanted to do," she said.

The trip to the Field Museum and hands-on workshop was funded by PepsiCo. Over a five-year period starting in 2021, the company is investing $5 million in career prep programs targeting students on Chicago's South and West sides.

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