With the support of Boeing and in collaboration with local partner FUNDESTEAM, PADF’s STEM initiative in Panama has grown exponentially over the past three years. PADF and FUNDESTEAM have worked to improve STEM education in Panama and increase the number of Panamanian students who pursue STEM education and careers. After identifying the 12 schools that would participate in the program, PADF and FUNDESTEAM provided 8-hour trainings to teachers at each school on how to teach STEM topics. Teachers at each school were selected to create STEM Laboratories in their schools by using LEGO robotics kits. As part of these STEM Laboratories, students developed projects and in September 2019, the 12 public schools were able to send their students to compete in the annual Panama National Robotics Olympiad organized by FUNDESTEAM.
In addition to being a particularly successful event, First Lady Yasmin Colon de Cortizo and Minister of Education Maruja Gorday de Villalobos attended and used the competition as an opportunity to announce their interest in having STEM education be a part of the offerings at 900-1,000 schools in Panama, particularly those in the most vulnerable communities. This represents an important achievement in Panama and opens the door to expanding PADF’s work throughout the country.