Micaela Honorato is looking from the sidelines as boys from her after-school program take turns racing their hand-made hovercraft on a dirt field in a city park.
These remote-controlled cardboard devices are less "hover" and more "skid-along," as the teacher Abraham Orozco puts it. Today, the middle-school kids are contending for the fastest spin around four traffic cones.
Michaela is a tall 12-year-old with a serious and focused gaze. She quietly awaits her turn, then concentrates on the controls. At 16.36 seconds, she takes the lead in the competition.
This after-school program is called HOLA — which stands for "Heart of Los Angeles" — and it serves the city's Rampart District, where nearly all residents live in poverty. Vast majority of HOLA's participants are Latino.
Over nearly 30 years, the program has helped hundreds go to college. A handful of students from Orozco's scientific arts program at HOLA have pursued successful technical careers.
But Orozco says a lot of his students shy away from the tech industry, despite technical talents: They don't want jobs with any economic risk — something quite common for work at a startup or in computer science in general.
Illustration: Chelsea Beck/NPR
Editor’s Note: This story was reported by Latino USA in collaboration with All Tech Considered.