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Lowering barriers to STEM fields for Idaho students

Soñia Galaviz

Soñia Galaviz wears a lot of hats. She’s a teacher in a 4th/5th grade classroom at Garfield Elementary — a Title I school — in Boise. She’s also a triple Bronco, with a bachelor’s (2002), a master’s (2005), and a doctorate (2020). She received a Boise State Distinguished Alum award in 2021 and is running for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives.

In this video, learn about how Sonia Galaviz plans on bringing bring STEM to the students and families of Whittier Elementary. Closed captions and a video transcript are available.

In her academic and professional careers, Galaviz said that she has learned a simple truth: Parents are one of a teacher’s most vital assets when it comes to inspiring students’ passions for STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math.

In her doctoral research, Galaviz asked questions about how parents and teachers can work together to build a “STEM identity” – an affinity with STEM fields – in students, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.

While some students have a natural ability or come from households where these concepts are commonplace, many do not. Galaviz is working to close that gap through initiatives like STEM Nights for students and their families. She and fellow teachers partner with community members to broaden students’ educational experiences through a range of activities including robotics and drone labs, trips to the Discovery Center and more.

“Soñia is a fierce advocate for her students and strives to ignite the same passion within each of them,” said Jessica Cromie, the principal at Garfield.

Galaviz said that her teaching model — including welcoming families into STEM education — is on its way to 100% adoption in schools across the Boise School District.

“My Garfield kids are graduating from high school and saying they want to be engineers or doctors. That’s what I want to do — increase their choices,” Galaviz said.

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