Innovative STEM kids summer program takes over Soar Park

Little Haiti Optimist Club partner with Yul Allen

Ashley Montgomery | 7/10/2014, 9 a.m.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors are on the rise and so are their popularity among children. The Little ...
Youth enjoy learning new things at the Little Haiti Optimist Club at Soar Park. Marie Louissaint

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors are on the rise and so are their popularity among children. The Little Haiti Optimist Club partnered with the creator of STEM Genius, Yul Allen to deliver an innovative summer program to the community.

The summer camp is giving 45 students ages five to 15 a chance to learn basic engineering skills through teamwork, computer programming and hands-on design and building of various projects.

“Batiah Sinepha, 14, says she has learned so much in the short amount of time she’s been a part of the program.

“I’ve made a lot of friends so far,” she said. “I’ve learned great teamwork and how to program things.”

Joseph Stevens, 11, is another example of how this program is expanding on the newfound interest of STEM related subjects.

“I liked science already but this just makes it fun,” Stevens said.

Both students said that they have noticed more of their peers are interested in learning about subjects outside of the arts and physical education.

“I’m looking forward to making a car by the time camp is over with,” Stevens said.

Sinepha has something similar in mind too.

“I want to build a help-robot,” she said. That wish came true because later that day that is exactly what Allen showed the students how to do.


Allen, a native of Detroit, Mich. and founder of STEM Genius, will train the little geniuses-in-the-making. Prior to the program, he trained staff members Lorenzo Johnson and Angela Burns of the Little Haiti Optimist Club staff too.

Staff members Johnson and Burns are proud of the advancements Little Haiti Optimist Club have made to reach children in a creative and modern way.

“A typical day here is geared towards academic fun,” Johnson said. “I say that because it’s a style of students getting a well-balanced amount of fun while learning. Little Haiti Optimist Club has invested a lot into the kids. Not only the instructor that they have but the equipment that they have as well.”

Johnson tipped his hat off to his co-worker Burns and her exceptional leadership skills.

Burns has been employed with the Club for four years.

“They go crazy, they don’t want to stop [learning],” Burns said. “They are just really excited and it’s like they are accidentally learning.”


A guest instructor, Allen attended Florida Memorial University years ago and says he is forever indebted to them for showing him that he can be a productive student.

“Although I am a graduate student of Harvard, but when I came out of high school I didn’t feel engaged or challenged — it wasn’t fun to me. I fell by the wayside.”

Innovative summer program takes over Soar Park.

Innovative summer program takes over Soar Park.

STEM Genius is a growing program that travels predominately which is based in Detroit but has been getting national attention over the months.

“I get offered crazy contracts but my target it to reach the forgotten ones,” Allen said. “The thing that is so unique here at Little Haiti Optimist Club is that we are going every week with something different.”