Often, students find the problem-solving and critical thinking that’s expected in computer science to be tedious or frustrating. For any teacher, that can be an intimidating obstacle to overcome. But for Juan Lozano, it’s a challenge to embrace as an opportunity for genuine change; a means through which to pave the way toward the future of American efforts in science and math, more commonly referred to as STEM subjects.

Lozano, who started teaching computer science in the Highline School District in the state of Washington, has been working to do away with the inequality he was all too familiar with from his background spent as a professional in the field. “Coming from the industries, I saw the lack of access for a lot of underrepresented minorities in computer science and in the technology field.” Lozano knew his goal, then, was to “bridge the gap” by bringing his experience and guidance to the classroom.

Believing that every student should be given equal access to the information and education of computer science, Lozano works to afford his students with the opportunity to explore the field and study it for themselves, regardless of whether or not they determine computer science to be a fit for a career. He’d “rather have a kid go through the whole process and then say ‘You know what, this isn’t for me’” than have them never be exposed to computer science in the first place.

In his classroom at SeaTac’s Academy of Citizenship & Empowerment, Lozano feels that children have a fertile inclination to engage with technology, stemmed from a natural desire to problem solve. According to Lozano, “this isn’t just computer science, it’s about technology and problem solving.”

Computer science takes the affinity for such behavior and promotes it tenfold, turning students’ interest into opportunity. Rather than be held back and placed into a passive role of lecture or retaining information, Lozano empowers his students by facing them with a problem and encouraging them to be proactive in finding or even creating a new solution.

Through this approach, Lozano hope to instill in students a respect and affection for STEM subjects, integrating the use of technology in a meaningful and contemporary manner that demonstrates the importance of knowledge in such areas to ensure they will be well prepared and qualified in a number of skills currently sought after by next-gen employers; communication, problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking.

The story was originally published by Komo News.