Local senator pushing for physics program in middle schools for girls

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A national program looking to launch mid-school girls into a career in math and sciences could start in Albuquerque. The goal is to change the face of the state’s workforce. It’s called “See the Change.”

“If we get students — especially female students — focused on physics in the mid school, the likelihood is they’re going to end up running NASA someday,” Sen. Michael Padilla said.

Sen. Padilla also said just like the movie “Hidden Figures,” he’s looking to break the stereotype that math and science are “boy” subjects.

“See the Change” aims to do just that, and soon two middle schools in the South Valley — Harrison and Truman — could kick off the program for Albuquerque Public Schools.

Truman’s principal says she’s ready to get started.

“We are excited to have it on this side of town because we don’t always get the kind of opportunities,” said Michele Torres, principal.

The “See the Change” program could begin this fall. Program organizers say during science class students will be introduced to physics through book work and hands-on learning. The extra education is being offered to both girls and boys.

“I personally would be interested in this program because I struggle myself with science,” said Estevan Rodriquez, seventh grader.

Those behind the program in New Mexico say this is the crucial time to get girls interested in science and math. They hope one day it will help them launch into a new career.

“I think it’s important because lots of girls struggle in math and physics and all that. So I think it would really help them out. Help their grades get up and build a career,” said Angelica Contreras.

“If we are able to do that, then our workforce will look very different and look more attractive for companies wanting to come here,” said Senator Padilla.

According to the “See the Change” website, less than 20 percent of graduating engineers in 2015 were women.

Sen. Padilla says this program is already running in 16 schools across New Mexico. But again, he says Truman and Harrison would be the first for APS.

Sen. Padilla also says the program would be funded by the New Mexico Jobs Council through the State Legislature, making this sort of program unique for the Jobs Council whose job is to find new ways to identify and create new jobs.

For more information on “See the Change,” click here.

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