In Fall 2019, after a short visit to the Topsail High School Robotics Competition in NC with her two sons, Ashley Lomboy (Waccamaw-Siouan), began to research local STEM programs her sons could participate in. After extensive research, she found there was no such affordable programs and began to identify ways to start a STEM program. She wanted to build a program that included her sons seeing STEM professionals that looked like them and included learning alongside other tribal youth. Ashley began to seek out and identify tribal members who were in STEM careers and learned there was a common thread between all of us to give back to the community and increase native representation in STEM. After confirming fiscal sponsorship from the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe 501(c)(3) in January 2020, STEM Studio was born.
For many who grow up in rural tribal communities, the story has continued to be the same. We move away for higher education and sacrifice living in our tribal community to continue having the career we always wanted. Although, the drive and charge to continue serving the community never goes away. This very charge is what sparked and has continued to drive the members of the Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio.
Since then, we have grown into an award winning STEM Program serving Waccamaw Siouan Tribal Youth. We are the 2022 Winners of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina Exceptional Environmental Educators Award and supported Island Wildlife in their 2022 award with NC Wildlife Federation.
Natives in STEM Statistics
Native Americans make up less than 2% of the United States population, with .02% of Native Americans having STEM degrees. To see more Native Americans in STEM careers we must engage our youth early and often. We need to provide them more resources that are available and consistent.
13% Job Growth in STEM Jobs by 2027
3 of 1000 American Indians have STEM Degrees
62% of students in local schools are below the state average for Math
11% of Waccamaw Siouan tribal members have advanced degrees (per 2010 census data)
Our values are based on an Indigenous framework that outlines native community led programing, inclusion of tribal culture and giving back to the families of the community.
Over the next two years we are working towards three main goals.
Grow annual programs, such as the Yaccune (fish) Camp and STEM Day.
Introduce new STEM experiences, such as computer programing, archeology and 3D printing.
Build an ongoing program that will continue to engage youth regularly and provide a service to the tribal community.
STEM Studio is funded through grants, sponsorships, corporate, and private donations. The Waccamaw Siouan Tribe, and other non-profit organizations, provide fiscal sponsorship for the STEM Studio program. The program is ran 100% by volunteers.
Your support could help fund our next program!