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Here's how a Hampton nonprofit sparks passion for STEM in students

STEM professionals are more in demand than ever. Time Out 4U encourages students to explore the field and pushes for more diversity in the workforce.

HAMPTON, Va. — A Hampton-based nonprofit is drawing a new path for students.

STEM teacher Chandra Oaks-Garcia founded Time Out 4U, Inc. in 2013.

"We are comprised of certified teachers. We collaborate with STEM experts, organizations, to build this cohesive, collaborative network," Oaks-Garcia said.

Time Out 4U, Inc. exposes PreK-12 students in underserved and minority communities to the world of science, technology, engineering and math.

"We don't try to teach. We just have fun with STEM. Because if you can start having fun, you're [going to] get them. And the learning will come," Oaks-Garcia said.

The nonprofit hosts workshops, after-school programs and events that include hands-on activities for children.

"When you see the eyes on those kids when they're lying on the floor building things and it all comes crumbling down, now you know that's the spark," Oaks-Garcia said.

Time Out 4U, Inc. also help students learn essential life skills.

"I give a little information and expect a lot in return. Critical thinking, problem solving," Oaks-Garcia said. 

"You're talking about collaboration. You're talking about workplace readiness skills."

Oaks-Garcia hopes the nonprofit inspires more diversity in the STEM workforce and lifelong learning in students.

"I want kids to feel confident. I want them to have that drive, and I want them to have that belief that 'I, too, can do it'," Oaks-Garcia said.

Time Out 4U, Inc. is hosting its 7th annual STEM Symposium and College Fair on Saturday, March 4.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.

Official registration is closed, but interested students are still welcome to attend and explore.

For more information about Time Out 4U, Inc. or to connect with the nonprofit, click here.

You can also check out the group on Facebook.

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