WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — A teenager who calls herself the “STEM Queen” is on a mission to make sure underserved kids in her community get exposure to the possibilities of science. Jacqueline Means is not only working to get grade school children to pay attention to her science experiments, she wants to inspire them as well.
At 16 years old, she is on a mission, hoping to plant a seed.
“Too often, girls think that science or tech or engineering is really hard or boring, but I think it can be exciting, and I think that you just have to be shown that it can be fun,” said Jacqueline.
On this day, her demonstration is for a group of children who have lost loved ones to gun violence, while others are from low-income families.
It’s a presentation Jacqueline has done for hundreds of children over the last two years as part of a program she’s created called the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative. The program exposes children from underserved neighborhoods in her community to science, technology, engineering and math.
“It was absolutely discouraging when I saw there were no programs that kids in like Southbridge and underprivileged communities could go to because they deserve that same opportunity as those other kids,” Jacqueline said.
“I think it’s very empowering because you see a young black woman doing science, and everything — you don’t see everyday,” Wilmington resident Nekayla Cannon-Stokes said.
Jacqueline is going into her senior year at Delaware Military Academy where she is a student battalion commander.
Outside of school, she is the reigning Miss Delaware Outstanding Teen, which is part of the Miss America organization. She is competing this week for the national title.
“When people come up to me and say, ‘Well, why are you wearing that crown and sash?’ I can say, ‘I wear it to help advocate for my platform, STEM education advocacy,'” Jacqueline explained.
She’s also a cheerleader, plays basketball, runs track and is teaching herself Japanese.
This summer, Jacqueline was selected for the Bank of America Student Leaders Program, working with local nonprofits. It’s all part of her very strategic path to be an inspiration to young faces.
“Anybody can do what they put their mind to,” one young girl said.
Students are now excited by science as they watch her continue to shine.
“I know that if I’m impacting one little girl, showing her that STEM is something she can do, I’m making an impact,” Jacqueline said.
The teen is hoping to become a neurosurgeon. She’s hoping to retire early so she can volunteer her time and perform surgeries for those in need around the world.