On Monday, the students at New Beginnings Charter School in Bed-Stuy were joined by Brooklyn Nets star Jarrett Allen for the launch of NETSTEM, the team’s new initiative that uses gamified online lessons and basketball to prepare kids for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“Kids are growing up with technology, it’s what they see and breathe every day,” said Martine Cadet, a vice president at Infor, a software company that partnered with the Nets to provide the necessary computers and software. “They don’t even realize all of the technology they see. Like when they’re watching a game, the statistics come up on the screen and people are analyzing the game. It’s technology that’s powering the analytics. It’s on us to make that connection plain.”
New Beginnings Charter School is one of 15 schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan to work with NETSTEM, an online questionnaire that determines the students’ individual strengths and particular interests in STEM. The program then develops a tailored course for each student, showing them that STEM can be more than “just” science and math.
Nets center Jarrett Allen surprised a group of eighth graders while they familiarized themselves with the program. The kids were in awe when the 6’11-towering athlete entered the classroom.
“I usually get that reaction just from being tall,” said Allen. “But some of the kids knew me, and I could tell they were excited that I was here.”
Allen, who said his favorite subject in school was math, mingled with the students and helped them with their questionnaires.
“I always loved STEM,” shared Allen. “I’ve always loved that aspect of school. So anything I can do to help kids be more into it, I want to do.”
After the students completed their questionnaires, they were led to the school’s gymnasium to join Nets announcer Olivier Sedra and City Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr. for a talk on the importance and possibilities of STEM.
Cornegy expressed his gratitude for how the school is embracing the NETSTEM program.
“I just want to say how excited I am and grateful I am to have such a great school in my district,” said the councilmember. “You guys are a model for what we want all our schools to be, and you have such great faculty who really wants you to have the best.”
Before they were whisked away to their classrooms, the students had the opportunity to take pictures with Allen. And when the Nets star was thrown a basketball, he couldn’t resist dunking it on the gym’s hoop, to great roars and applause from the kids.