Portsmouth 3rd grade student writes letter to join STEM program


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A local third grade student wants to see big changes in Portsmouth Public Schools.

Alicia Samuels, a self-proclaimed scientist, says she wants to be part of the Starbase STEM program. Alicia took matters into her own hands and wrote the organization a passionate letter.

“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 Samules, The Scientist”

Right now, the program is available for fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

“I felt like I wanted to be in the program so much,” said Alicia. “The other kids in my classroom wanted to be in it too. So, I want it to change!”

Her mom Diane Samuels says she is always doing science experiments at home. Diane says she started showing interest in science around 5 years-old.

“At first I was like Alicia what are you doing with my kitchen stuff or leave my soap alone. Then I see that she has a real thing for it so know I’m like do you need this?” explained Diane. “I’m helping her now! It’s interesting to watch her grow.”

Alicia even created her own YouTube page to inspire other kids to become scientists.

“She did the robotic arm, I think that might have been her favorite. She also made an elevator. She just recently made bouncy balls,” said Diane. “There is always some type of science mix in her room. Some type of thing with dye and oil.”

Diane asked 10 On Your Side’s Kiahnna Patterson to share the handwritten letter on Facebook.

Fifty people shared the post in support of Alicia, then StarBase organizer Richard Neefe responded.

“I read it on spring break, we were with my family in Florida and I was just amazed. We reached out right away and tried to connect with as many people as possible and say yes absolutely,” said Neefe.

VIDEO: StarBase organizer explains STEM program

While she couldn’t get into the Starbase Program, she was able to get into the Starbase Lego WeDo summer camp.

The week-long STEM summer camp starts July 22. Students will take a trip to the Virginia Zoo to study animal movements, then build a robotic animal and habitat. Students will also make rockets in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. 

The camp will prepare Alicia for entrance into the Starbase program in September.

Neefe says now the Portsmouth Public Schools Office of Science will work to add more STEM programs for the lower grades.

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