BTE Student Stories

Solar Robot Experiment

2021 was a very busy year for BTE Puebla, Mexico, partners and participants. Despite having to pivot to virtual programming due to COVID-19, program partners from Janssen, Johnson & Johnson Mexico, Servicios a la Juventud (SERAJ), and Colegio de Bachilleres del Estado de Puebla (COBAEP 18) all came together throughout 2020 and 2021 to implement a variety of hybrid programming, ranging from hands-on virtual engagement activities and lessons that focused on reading comprehension and self-care to in-person events highlighting solar energy and robotics. With an end-of-program goal of 40% of program graduates moving on to a STEM2D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing, and Design) or health sector, their site is well on their way to reaching this goal as they approach their final year in programming.

Reflecting on COVID-19 impacts, the BTE Puebla, Mexico, site began 2021 with a focus on student needs and the importance of self-care. This skill-building session was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson volunteers who worked with BTE students to help them understand self-care strategies and how to care for one’s own emotional health. This was a very meaningful session for students. Not only did they allow themselves to be vulnerable and share their personal struggles and self-doubts, but they were supportive of one another throughout the session and found a common theme in the importance of each of them prioritizing their emotional health, particularly as they continued to navigate life during a pandemic.

Marie Curie ComicReinforcing the importance of academics as it relates to postsecondary planning, the BTE Puebla team organized a “Comics & Science Session” for participants. This session targeted reading comprehension, a topic that is uniformly difficult for most students. Janssen volunteers used their creativity and connected the lesson to science, teaching the students about Marie Curie, a scientist often noted for her discovery of radium and polonium, as well as her extraordinary contributions to finding treatments for cancer. The session allowed students to tap into their creative side; they each created a comic strip of Marie Curie applying the concepts learned. This was a great way to showcase their artistic talents, as well as illustrate what they’d learned about a pioneering woman leader in science.

Keeping in tune with students’ interest in learning more about diverse STEM2D careers, Johnson & Johnson volunteers from Mexico City joined the BTE Puebla site and hosted a panel discussion on their pathways to their careers. This was an inspiring discussion that led to virtual activities later in the quarter, with Puebla participants able to engage in not one, but two STEM2D activities: Strawberry Squish and Quicksand! The BTE Puebla leadership team used their creativity to put together science kits for each student. These were then mailed to each students’ home so they could engage in a hands-on learning activity despite being in a virtual space. A great way to think outside the box to ensure stimulating programming continued!

World Youth Skills Day also became a celebratory event for BTE Puebla students. To celebrate, a special session was held with the BTE students and their COBAEP 18 peers – it was exciting for students to interact with friends beyond their BTE cohort. Students worked together to conduct experiments and learn about chemical reactions. Johnson & Johnson volunteers helped stimulate the students’ learning and taught them the science behind each chemical reaction. The experience kept the site engaged and connected during summer months.

Science Experiments

More recently, and perhaps of most exciting, BTE Puebla students were finally able to come together for an in-person session at the end of 2021! This session began in a virtual space with Johnson & Johnson volunteers who led a workshop on renewable energies, particularly solar energy and how it helps sustain the city of Puebla. Students then participated in an outdoor activity together, putting solar energy to the test by building their own solar robots: a very exciting workshop for all involved!

Huge kudos to the BTE Puebla, Mexico, leadership team and their incredibly resilient participants for pushing through 2021 with resolve, unwavering commitment, and creativity! The global BTE family is very proud of your accomplishments thus far and is excited to see what is to come as planning efforts begin for the final year. Congratulations on such successful program implementation!