Brownstown student raising money to attend national STEM forum

Bryar Disque is a clever, analytical, smart person who excels academically.

He enjoys doing science experiments, knows how to use a Chromebook, likes to build things and is good at math.

He wants to become either a farmer, a veterinarian or a conservation officer.

He’s only 10, but his parents, Brian and Tonya Disque, and teachers at Brownstown Elementary School see a lot of potential in him and are excited to see what the future holds.

Next summer, Bryar will spend five days in Denver, Colorado, attending Envision’s National Youth Leadership Forum: Pathways to STEM, where he will be able to further explore his interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

The forum is a unique learning experience for bright, forward-thinking elementary school students who will evolve into next-generation innovators, engineers, doctors, software developers and scientists, according to envisionexperience.com. Students learn by doing during hands-on simulations and workshops.

To attend, students must be in grades 3 to 5 during the 2021-22 school year. Most are either nominated by educators or selected through Envision’s academic partnerships.

Bryar was chosen to represent Brownstown Elementary School. He was nominated by Jessica Turner, his third grade teacher last school year.

She said even though it was a tough year with the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryar worked hard and did his best with his education.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Bryar to explore different educational experiences and challenge his thinking,” Turner said. “I have no doubt that he will make new friends, learn many new things but most definitely push him into doing things he may have never had the chance to try. I am so excited for Bryar. He has such a bright future ahead of him.”

Bryar said he recently checked the mail at his Vallonia home and found a gold envelope addressed to him. Information inside let him know Turner had selected him for the opportunity.

“It’s really cool,” he said.

Tonya said she thought it was fake, so she called Turner.

“I call her and she’s like, ‘No, it’s not. I nominated him because he’s going to do big things,’” Tonya said. “She said, ‘I just see something that he needs to be pushed further, and this is a great experience.’ She said it opened the doors for her, and once you go one time, you’re a member, so when it does come time for college scholarships, he’s going to have a little bit more leverage because (Envision) since 1985 has been a company.”

That year, a Connecticut educator saw an opportunity to make the world her classroom. With the help of a congressional staff member, she arranged a trip for her students to visit the nation’s capital to attend the second presidential inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

The kids embraced Washington, D.C, meeting members of Congress, visiting the monuments and experiencing democracy in action. The excursion was deemed a huge success, but the teacher and staffer soon realized this was no ordinary field trip.

The opportunity to learn through experience had a profound effect on these students. They not only discovered a new and deeper relationship with the world around them, but they also began to realize they were capable of achieving so much more than they previously imagined.

More than 30 years later, Envision has grown from a teacher with an idea to a company that provides nearly 20 different career, leadership and technology programs that take place in cities across the United States and world.

While much has changed with Envision since its inception, the company’s mission remains focused on giving high-aspiring students in elementary school through college the unique opportunity to turn their career and life aspirations into reality. To date, more than 800,000 students have benefited from the experiences.

When given the opportunity to decide where he would attend, Tonya said Bryar quickly picked Denver. That way, he not only will attend the forum but get to do some outdoor adventures with his mom, too.

“I like being outdoors, and I like helping people,” Bryar said.

The forum is set for July 17 to 21, 2022. He already has obtained the $500 needed to hold his spot, thanks to donations from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty and Reedy Insurance, both in Seymour, and one of his grandmothers.

Instead of selling items to raise the remaining $2,700, Tonya decided to set up a GoFundMe account for Bryar.

“The total will pay his tuition in full as well as help offset his airfare and other essentials he will need while in Denver,” Tonya said.

He’s also seeking sponsorships and donations from people, businesses and organizations. If anyone would like to bypass GoFundMe, they can donate cash or a check made payable to Bryar Disque.

“We have until June, but we want to make sure it’s set and done,” Tonya said of why they have started fundraising now.

At the forum, Bryar will go through three pathways: Medicine, engineering and crime scene investigation.

Created by wilderness medicine expert Dr. Paul Auerbach and simulation expert Dr. Rebecca Smith-Coggins, professors in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, the medicine pathway’s realistic simulation will allow students to learn how to control minor but serious injuries and practice the proper application of medical splints.

Role playing as a medical intern, students will examine the circulatory system and heart, perform a dissection and diagnose a patient.

For the engineering pathway, they will work with an mBot robot to explore the world of engineering and build a foundation in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer programming.

“If he gets an extra $150, they will send him home with the software to write his own Roblox code,” Tonya said.

Roblox is an online platform and storefront where users go to play games.

“The better thing is I’ll probably get a bunch of people (to donate) because I have a bunch of friends that all they really do is play that game,” Bryar said.

Finally, as future crime solvers and forensic detectives, students will apply math and science-based skills and use fun chemistry concepts to unlock clues in an actual case.

“He will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a robot, train as a doctor and investigate a crime while making new friends and building necessary 21st century success skills,” Tonya said. “This is going to be a huge experience.”

Tonya said through the experience, Bryar also will gain communication and leadership skills.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing how this changes him,” she said. “I know what he’s capable of, but I don’t think he truly does, and I can’t wait to see what he comes home thinking after breaking down these three different career paths. … I’m curious to see what he does in the future.”