STEM in the Middle Opens the Eyes of Paul Cuffee Middle Schoolers to Opportunity

PCS Middle School girls at RIC

Paul Cuffee Middle School girls at Tech Collective’s fifth annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workshop and career expo held at RIC

Thirty lucky middle school girls were selected to attend Tech Collective’s fifth annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workshop and career expo which aims to increase STEM awareness and participation at a critical time in young women’s education. They were accompanied by Middle School Science Teachers, Ms. Schneider and Ms. Alvarez to the expo at The Rhode Island STEM Center at Rhode Island College.

Students from Sophia Academy, Times 2 STEM Academy, and Calcutt Middle School joined together with Paul Cuffee School students as they broke into small groups and attended three workshops, choosing from topics such as Engineering, Electronic Earrings, Art, Social Media, Computer Programming, Laser Cutting, Marine Science, Design and Fabrication, and Biotechnology. Paul Cuffee School students made their own gardens from recycled materials, designed their own earrings out of electrical fuses and colored wires, and learned what DNA looks like.

Students were excited. Eighth grader, Dignora Espinal found that “Stem in the middle was an awesome experience. I learned a lot about buoyancy and it was fun!”  Nyleah Febles echoed Dignora’s enthusiasm: “Stem in the middle really opened my eyes to my future. Girls love STEM!”

Luncheon keynote speaker, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, encouraged the young women present. She explained that when facing an intimidating circumstance, she changes her “self talk” to regain her confidence. Crediting her mother and her brother with being major influencers in her life, she said, “As a young girl, I had key female role models who helped me believe that I could be a doctor one day.  Today, I consider it one of my most important roles as a public figure …to encourage young people to follow their hearts and achieve their dreams.”  

The event was sponsored by the Governor’s Workforce Board/Rhode Island, Raytheon, and IBM.  


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
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BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%