The parents of a rising fifth-grade student at General Beadle Elementary School are seeking donations that will help send their son to an upcoming STEM career exploration conference in Minneapolis.
Noel and Jennifer Brown recently launched a GoFundMe page with a goal of $6,500 that covers the cost of tuition for their 10-year-old son, Brandon, as well as travel and lodging expenses for the three of them.
“We’re still struggling to pay the entire cost. This would help us tremendously," Noel Brown said during a phone call Tuesday.
Brandon is one of a handful of Rapid City school students who were nominated to attend this year's National Youth Leadership Forum on careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The six-day conference is organized by the Vienna, Virginia-based private company Envision, which produces similar events across the country each year.
He was nominated by his fourth-grade teacher Ramona Sammarco based on the academic proficiency he demonstrated in the subjects of math, reading and music. Noel Brown said his son is also learning to write computer code through the Kahn Academy, a website that offers free classes in a range of different subjects, and at his direction has read the King James Bible in its entirety.
“I know he’s going places in life," Noel Brown said.
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During the conference, Brandon will have the opportunity to build a robot and participate in activities that simulate the practices of medicine and criminal investigation.
After he graduates, Brandon said he hopes to attend the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to study computer engineering. A fan of Apple products, he said he hopes to one day work for the tech giant and develop gadgets that make life easier.
"That’s why I like science. I kind of want to make something new for the world," he said.
Brandon's parents seek to travel with him to Minneapolis and are asking for enough money to cover the $1,796 balance that remains on his tuition for the conference. The cost of tuition does not cover that of air travel and lodging.
As of Tuesday evening, they have raised $1,190 so far. The conference is scheduled to begin June 23.
If you are interested in donating to the Brown family's GoFundMe page, you can do so here.