Part of the Team in 2017

Part of the team in 2016

Part of the team in 2018

We began in 2016 as a group of graduate students trying to bring our research closer and relevant to our community in Merced, California. Today, we are a network dedicated to bringing academics from Universities and Colleges closer to the community to share research in an accessible, relevant and fun way! Our main goal is democratizing science and education for children and adults, introducing students to advanced, integrated and interdisciplinary academic topics using project- and play-based activities. We hope to make learning fun and answer the question of “why” we need all of the schooling we go through – namely so we can address the pressing issues of today.

Education is one of the key components of fighting for social justice in our communities, empowering our youth and adults to use their voice and trust their knowledge to become creative problem solvers. It is our mission to enhance education, creative and critical thinking skills through showing students of all ages that learning is not only fun, but also how it can be empowering to come up with meaningful and impactful solutions!

Around the country, there is an urgent need to adapt the current education system to this new generation of students, offering a new technology that will activate their curiosity, engage students in analytic reasoning, reduce their fear and uncertainty about the future and motivate them to pursue higher education. In using the newest and most innovative didactic resources, personnel with the highest preparation and the highest levels of engagement in education, we believe it is possible to impact the academic outcomes of students from diverse backgrounds. At present, we are working with students from California’s Central Valley because of its significant socioeconomic problems, particularly regarding K-12 education. Federal and local governments are trying to reduce this inequity through funding outsourced initiatives to help diverse communities, especially within the realm of education. Understanding this need, the nonprofit SocioEnvironmental and Education Network, SEEN, (formerly 4 Venir, and STAY and MESAT programs) has successfully developed and delivered several educational and motivational programs since the Summer 2016, serving hundreds of students from 5th to 12th grade. SEEN exists to offer a direct support to schools, agencies, counties and more, to mentor and motivate students to improve their academic skills and pursue higher education. These activities combine science, technology and art to show students how these elements are interrelated and to motivate them to and their own passions. Our clients are public school districts, private schools, county offices of education (such as the Merced County Once of Education in California) and organizations whose objectives align with SEENs and who need to outsource some of the tasks in which SEEN specializes.

We started in the Summer of 2016 teaching workshops in the Natural Sciences and Robotics for students in 5th-8th grade who were enrolled and identified as a migrant family in the Merced County Office of Education. In 2017 we, again, worked with the Merced County of Education Office to other 5th-8th grade students identified as migrant workshops in Natural Sciences and Technology. Then in 2018, we worked with UC Merced’s Center for Educational Partnerships to bring hundreds of students interactive workshops and talks that integrated science, technology and art. In the past two years, SEEN has been funded and managed more the $150,000 to run these programs and we have served more than 500 5th-12th grade students. Within starting this program, it has evolved as student needs and voices about each workshop are used to improve each session. Overall, feedback has shown an increase in student knowledge base of general scientific topics, such as implementing the scientific method, and boosting self-confidence as they are introduced to new fields of science that they may never have heard of or have the opportunity to explore.

Our main service is developing and providing hands-on activities aligned with school district/educational services needs for students in 5th-12th grade and families focused on advanced scientific topics in the natural sciences, social sciences and applied sciences. Five pillars make up SEEN’s portfolio: First, designing, implementing and executing hands-on workshops in the natural sciences, social sciences and applied sciences. These workshops are designed to directly engage students’ passion for science, reduce the fear of making mistakes and increase their confidence to investigate by themselves. These workshops are conducted during intensive Summer sessions and during the academic year. Second, we provide interactive talks and panels, in the same three areas, with experts and role models, who are familiar and close to the children’s background. We show how higher education is fun, useful and is possible to reach no matter one’s social, political or economic background, which, again, has a direct impact in a student’s motivation and self-confidence. Third, SEEN offers direct support to schools’ curricula, developing methods and experiments for different science classes that will engage the students in a more successful, innovative and exciting way. Fourth, SEEN sees the need to close the gap between students, their families and schools through offering a family school, where the parents take classes and experiment with scientific concepts together with their student(s); family-student activities include parents in the educative and instructive process, with hands-on workshops and cooperation between students and parents to show both the importance of science and mutual support. Finally, 4 Venir offers consultation services to families and schools about the path to college, starting from personal long and short-term goals, to personality tests to discover strengths and to offer guidance on choosing a suitable career based on each student’s skills and interests. SEEN also offers advice on how to obtain support to pay for college and in navigating college life challenges, especially for first-generation students. Overall, SEEN’s mission is to provide students and families support through their schools in pursuit of higher education in science, technology and the arts.