Nebraska High School Students Advocate For STEM Education At The Capitol

March 23, 2022, 5:31 p.m. ·

Fourteen high school students pose for a photo at the capitol.
JuSTEMagine is a group of volunteer high school students with a passion for STEM and SEL (social and emotional learning) education. The group was founded in 2019 and has 19 national and international chapters. (Photo by Melissa Rosales, Nebraska Public Media News)

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At the state Capitol, 14 high school students wore their best clothes and spoke to Nebraska state legislators about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) education in Nebraska.

Brownell Talbot High School Senior Student Jack Cenovic co-founded JuSTEMagine after realizing his passion for STEM education and sharing it with others students through outreach. In his black suit and gray tie, he said the group will encourage senators to support the Computer Science Technology and Education Act. The bill would give public school students access to computer science education. Cenovic also hopes to tell legislators why it’s important for them to expand robotics, social-emotional learning, and STEM education in the state.

Two high school students pose for a photo at the capitol in front of a poster on a easel.
Jack Cenovic (right) is the co-founder and president of JuSTEMagine. Riley Hawkins (left) is the vice-president of the group. (Photo by Melissa Rosales, Nebraska Public Media News)

"I mean, of course, learning STEM is good for problem solving and critical thinking," he said. "But, it's really about those soft skills while working in teams, being collaborative, being able to communicate well. STEM teaches all of those skills as well."

JuSTEMagine vice-president and high school senior Riley Hawkins, came to the Capitol to advocate for students who don’t have access to STEM resources.

"For me, a big part of it is just making sure that kids have those opportunities because I know we've been very fortunate at our school," she said. "But, I know in a lot of places, kids don't always have the opportunities for STEM education and STEM activities."

Their mission is to inspire students to find their abilities in STEM, and in themselves, Hawkins said.