The San Diego Chapter, of The Links, Incorporated is part of an international service organization focused on community service, especially to youth. The Links to STEM program, launched in 2014, is a direct outgrowth of that focus. The program was created to help address the significant under‐representation of persons of color, especially women and African Americans, pursuing college degrees in math, science and engineering. Each year the program, which has concluded its seventh year, consists of approximately 30 students in the 4th through 8th grade, the majority of whom come from low‐ to moderate‐income households. The program runs from June to April, providing students the opportunity to participate in STEM enrichment summer camps and a hands-on program that meets two Saturdays out of each month. Over 23 students have graduated from the program since 2014.
The Links to STEM curriculum emphasizes laboratory science, computer programming, robotics, math, hands on science activities, special projects, field trips and the opportunity to meet and learn from young professionals already working in STEM‐related fields. Over the years, the students have attended the annual Science Expo, presented their creative ideas to Tesla and the City of Chula Vista Smart Cities, visited the 3D Printing Lab at Spectrum Library (National University), toured and worked with engineers at Hewlett Packard and scientists at Mirati Therapeutics. Students have also learned to program EV3 robots, and program and fly drones. Each year the students in the 4th - 6th grade have competed in a science, innovation, or engineering fair which requires them to identify and develop a project and present it to a panel of judges.
Our 7th - 8th grade students form our competitive
robotics team known as the Giga Bears. The Giga Bears compete in the First Lego League (“FLL”). Links to STEM won its first robotics team trophy (Robot Design) in November 2016. The Giga Bears won 2nd place (out of 26) for robot design, and 4th place for robot performance in November 2017. In November 2018, the team placed 7th (out of almost 30 teams) in robotic performance and placed 8th (out of 37) while receiving a perfect score in Core Values in March 2019.
Competing against twenty-three teams in October 2019, the Giga Bears won 1st Place Tournament Champion Honors!
In 2016, the Links to STEM program was recognized as one of the Best Services to Youth programs in The Links, Incorporated. The San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce also recognized the Links to STEM program at its annual gala in 2016. California State Assembly Member Shirley Weber recognized the San Diego Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, as the "2016 Nonprofit of the Year," specifically highlighting the Links to STEM program. The program was also featured in the Voice of San Diego.
In 2020, the Links to STEM program established a NSBE, Jr. Chapter. As a member of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), the students will have the opportunity to participate in technical competitions such as Try-Math-A-Lon MATHCOUNTS, Engineering Design Competition (Robotics-based), and the PCI Science Fair. They will participate in NSBE conferences and will be able to compete for scholarships and awards as they graduate high school.
The first graduates of the Links to STEM program have finished high school and entered college! These students matriculate at Spelman University (Atlanta, GA), University of California San Diego and California State University, Northridge. One student is in the engineering program and the other students are science majors! The next cohort will graduate high school in May 2021. UC Berkeley, Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL) and Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) are a few of the colleges and universities our graduates will be attending.
Links to STEM is powered by our great volunteers, our sponsors and our families. Our engineering coaches are employed by local companies such as General Atomic, SDG&E, Solar Turbines, Qualcomm and the United States Navy.