Sarah Monique Somma has joined the University of Nevada, Reno Extension as Clark County’s 4-H STEAM coordinator.
As the STEAM coordinator, Somma is working with the Clark County 4-H Program to create curriculum to educate students in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) topics and help them develop workforce skills, including communication, creativity and collaboration. Her primary goal is to offer these services to under-represented populations who may otherwise be lacking in such educational opportunities.
One of the lessons created by Somma, called “Got Bars?,” incorporates skill development in music and technology. Using open source computer applications such as the GarageBand music creation studio, students must work together to research the properties of matter, then compose original songs that can teach the subject to other students. The concept stemmed from the ABC song, which uses a catchy tune to teach kids a basic lesson. By doing this exercise, students use art as a medium for learning, researching and teaching complicated concepts in chemistry.
As a student, Somma worked for Extension offices in Iowa. She saw the position in Clark County as a great opportunity to rejoin Extension and share her passion for STEAM subjects with students.
“We’ve seen some really positive feedback from both the kids and parents about this program,” Somma said. “Going in with a positive attitude and making sure that I’m advocating for the students’ success has shown that these kids can do amazing things when given the opportunity.”
Going forward, Somma hopes to bring new types of technology and subjects, such as animation, into the program. She wants students to leave school with experience and certifications in a variety of trades. Her goal is to ensure that all students have employable skills before graduating.
“We are excited to have Somma on board in Clark County 4-H,” said Eric Killian, Extension southern area director. “She brings a diverse background working with youth and they will benefit from her experience and enthusiasm. She is delivering 4-H online STEM to youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.”