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Mobile STEM Bus visiting rural communities in Coastal Bend and across Texas

"A teacher on the road. It's amazing. It's different."

PETTUS, Texas — In this time of COVID-19, we've seen a lot of unique ways of learning and teaching. In Pettus, some students had the chance to have class onboard a bus. 

A mobile Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Lab was brought to the community by the non-profit Learning Undefeated. The organization brings STEM education opportunities to rural and under-served communities for students in grades K-12. 

Their mission is to reach these students and educate them about the various STEM careers and engineering processes through hands-on learning. 

The program visits school districts at no cost. Through a grant from the Texas Education Agency, the mobile STEM Lab will be traveling throughout different parts of Texas this school year. 

In 2020, its been in West Texas, down in the valley and now in the Coastal Bend region. 

RELATED: LIST: Schools in the Coastal Bend with positive COVID cases

“A lot of times, it gets kids thinking in a really early age of some of the opportunities," said Cristina Cornejo, Vice President and Texas Regional Director of Learning Undefeated. 

"They're going to be building our future road and bridges and buildings, and the one thing that we push in every class that we teach is, we ask the question, ‘who could be an engineer?’ and we get a variety of answers, but we always tell them everybody can be an engineer." 

Credit: Sonia Gamez & Learning Undefeated

Desurae Matthews is the education program lead for Learning Undefeated. She learned about the mobile STEM Bus when it passed through her home of Wharton, when it was left devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

She heard that the bus would be traveling to other areas also impacted by the historic storm and wanted to help. She shared that the experience has been an enriching one.

“I’ve never imagined being a teacher on the road, like not tied to one school district. I have the opportunity to see and impact so many students. Some schools I see the entire school in one day. I love that. A teacher on the road. It’s amazing it’s different.”

She said it's important that smaller, more rural communities and school districts have access to this type of education as well, so that all students can get a bigger idea of the various career opportunities that await them. 

RELATED: Governor Greg Abbott teams up with TEA to help students with disabilities

"A lot of opportunities always go to the big cities and so sometimes you don’t realize what the world has to offer. You don’t realize there are so many different careers," Matthews said. "There's a job out there for this! There's so many science, technology, engineering, mathematics jobs. So much that the world has to offer."

On Friday, the mobile STEM lab was in Pettus. Early next week, it will be in Pawnee, and it's expected to visit Refugio and Aransas Pass in the coming weeks.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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