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Portsmouth student invited to STEM camp after writing letter to join the program

Local News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — More opportunities are in store for local elementary school student Alicia Samuels.

You may remember the 9-year-old wrote a passionate letter asking to be part of the Portsmouth public schools STEM Starbase program.

At the time, Alicia was in third grade. The program is for fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.

The letter said:

“Dear Starbase program, I don’t think it’s fair that 3rd graders and lower can’t participate in your program. Can you please fix that? Because I love Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. I believe that I am smart enough and this can be great for my future. “
-Alicia Samuels, The Scientist”

10 On Your Side’s Kiahnna Patterson shared the handwritten letter on Facebook. Fifty people shared the post in support of Alicia.

The organizer accepted her in the Starbase Lego WeDo summer camp.

After 10 On Your Side shared her story in June, she was invited to join another STEM summer program.

Olisha Sawyer, with the Supporting Transformational Opportunities for People (STOP) organization says she saw the story on WAVY.com.

“You rarely find children or youth interested in STEM programs or activities. Alicia was so embedded in it at that time. She was begging to be part of a program. I’m like, no, we have a program that she can be a part of,” explained Sawyer.

Sawyer says her YouTube page shows she belongs in the program.

“I saw her building a lot of different projects using technology and engineering. It made me so excited to have her to be part of this program,” she said.

The STOP summer camp is new to Portsmouth. The program is about seven weeks long, students meet at the Third Baptist Church. Everyday students have a new experiment and a weekly field trip.

Sawyer says the goal is to introduce students to STEM careers.

“STEM careers are so important. Careers outside of normal professional athlete, rappers and entertainers,” said Sawyer.

“We want the children to have a career outside of the norm of what they feel like a career is.”

The program is usually for students 12 years old and up, but Alicia will be part of the summer camp early.

Her mom Diane says that is no problem.

“Age is really just a number. She can keep up with people that are older than her. She is smarter than I am. I think she will fit in,” said Diane.

RELATED: Portsmouth 3rd grade student writes letter to join STEM program

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