We help educate and provide STEM resources to youth to increase awareness of opportunities for self growth and sustaining the environment
One of our speaker series talks with a doctor working in the fields of social anthropology, environmental safety, and medicine. In the talk she informed the audience about her experience as a doctor beyond borders and what being in different environments taught her! This talk had an audience of 150+!
At our summit at low socioeconomic schools in North India, we talked to girls in grades 5-12 about their living environments and their future aspirations. We provided them with guidance and words of advice that motivated them!
I had the opportunity recently to do an instagram social media takeover with the organization Youth for Positive Change. This is their post about me. My takeover and their description about me can be viewed in the attachments. Through this opportunity, I was able to reach out to new people that were interested in helping out and becoming a part of this organization!
This is one of our speaker series talks in which we invited the Medical Director of Pediatrics of the Dell Children's Medical Center to speak at the AISD Science and Health Resource Center. At this talk, we discussed health-related factors and their demographics in the Austin area as well as how healthy living and a healthy lifestyle could be achieved to further prevent diseases and to increase sustainability.
At one of our speaker series talks, we had a professor from the University of Texas at Austin to come to LASA high school and speak about neuroelectricity. This was one of our first talks and was successful with an engaged audience of 40+ high school students.
We worked with Harvard students and Dell Medical School to organize a science camp for high schoolers who couldn't afford to travel. We invited doctors and students at DMS to present about the Pre-Med path and inform the high schoolers about some of the experiences of these doctors.
At my District's Summit, I gave a keynote speech about mental health, specifically in relation to high schoolers, and the factors that caused it. I talked about Molak's Law, related to cyberbullying, as well as other factors such as sleep deprivation, caffeine addiction, high ecological footprints due to excessive tech use.
At events that we organize, I have created trifolds like these with games, infographics, and pictures that represent why it is important to have a healthy lifestyle. On one side, there is a game with pictures of all the places around our city where children can go to play in trails, parks, or natural pools, as a form of physical exercise, instead of staying at home.
At our Austin Energy Regional Science Fair, we presented in the Vaping Pandemic, specifically analyzing the harmful effects of vapes and why high schoolers become addicted to them. I was able to get my friend from a different school district to work on this project with me! We won the Superintendent's Award for this project!
As we worked with Harvard Student Agencies, we invited Dell Medical School doctors and students to speak to high school students as a addition to the camp!
This is a picture taken at a talk with a Dell Medical School professor at AISD Headquarters. This is a picture of friends who volunteered as a part of my team!
At a talk with a Dell Medical School professor, this is a picture of some of my friends who volunteered and attended as a part of my team. It was an amazing experience to be able to involve them in my efforts and share a part of me with them!
This is a picture of me outside of a school in North India. As this school was located in a low socioeconomic area, this wall was some of the only color that could be seen along the street.
At a talk with a Cardiology professor, I spoke about the importance of organizing such talks as a way to provide vital information for the community. I also spoke on ways to get involvde as well as why and how to as well.
When working at a tech literacy camp, the organization I was working with partned with Google Fiber, Oracle, and Ebay in order to faciliate opportunities for girls and underserved minorities to learn more about tech and major advancements and events happening in the world.
This is a picture of me working with another organization to teach a bilingual English-Spanish tech literacy camp for minority mothers. We taught them how to use basic G suite functions and apps as well as basic computing skills that these women could use in the future for jobs and for passing on to their children to create a more sustainable future.
At my District's Mental Health Summit, I spoke about mental health factors that affect teens. One interesting topic was Molak's Law and the cyberbullying story behind David Molak.
At a talk hosted, this is a picture of me speaking about resources that the community can utilize in order to ensure they are being introduced and engaged in the fields they are interested in.
This is a wonderful image of me and Dr. Jacobs, the professor who spoke at a talk I organized. She was an amazing person with lots of experience being a doctor beyond borders and aiding so many people effectively by combining social anthropology, sustainability, and medicine :)
At our summit at a school in a low socioeconomic area in North India, this is a picture of the girls we influenced and talked with!
Eligibility: Please confirm you meet all the following criteria
You are aged between 14 - 18 as of August 1, 2020
You live in the United States or its territories
You are not employed by, or directly related (grand parents, parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
You have been working on this project for at least three months
You consent to us possibly featuring your work on social media
You confirm you have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form
Eligibility: Date of Birth
October 12, 2004
What gender do you identify with?
Help us stay in touch!
Mailing Address: 11000 Arbole Cove, Texas: Austin (78739)
Phone Number: 512-785-4167
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project Started
April / 5 / 2019
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
As an avid scientific community member, I noticed that many aspiring students missed timely exposure to many interdisciplinary fields of STEM like environmental science, genetics, & more due to a lack of guidance & role models. Girls statistically err on the side of caution & are less likely to explore. It is important to provide meaningful insight into STEM to improve scientific literacy for environmental sustainability & community outreach.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Inspired by visits to Title I elementary schools, I realized that basic support from high schoolers stimulated younger students’ lifelong passions for learning. This was further confirmed by visits to schools in low socioeconomic areas in India, where students who lacked the right guidance & role models still wanted a decent job to support their families. This inspired me to create my organization, SparkED, with the goal of providing STEM resources to youth to enable them to make informed decisions about their life & world. This is achieved by speaker series, tech literacy camps, mentoring, tutoring, partnerships, & summits. So far, we’ve influenced 1000+ minds through talks by scientists & professors where personal & career experiences are shared. We partnered to host tech literacy camps to mothers from low income families as a way to help the entire household. We facilitated high school science programs by Harvard University in Austin for students who can’t afford to travel as a form of personalized guidance. For every child with increased scientific literacy, environmental issue awareness increases allowing for further mobilization of actions for a sustainable & better world!
3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.
SparkED aims to instill the principles of basic scientific literacy in young minds across the globe, especially in developing countries, so that they are ready to explore & become responsible citizens of the Earth. Research, and scientific & technical innovation, is critical in saving the environment, reducing the impact of global warming and climate change, cleaning up pollution, & self-care. Being knowledgeable about various fields in STEM is critical for youth to foster their curiosity of how the world we live in was formed & works today. My organization offers these young minds a way to channelize their energy in learning & in turn for the betterment of the environment & globe. By imparting the right scientific knowledge, we try to direct their minds for a social cause to act responsibly in following the rules like not to litter, correct trash bins to use, & how to prevent spread of diseases. Environment is a field of science. Being scientifically knowledgeable makes them acknowledge the gift of nature & work to keep it good. The social nature of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics is amplified when environmental phenomena are the subject of investigation.
4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
I am fortunate to have parents as experts in computer science & engineering who introduced me to the wonders of STEM. Joining Science Olympiad offered me a sublime chance to compete & win at MIT, UPenn, & 7th place at Nationals in environmentally targeted events: Ecology, Water Quality & Meteorology--from which I understood the many tortures Mother Nature faces. By meeting Title 1 Elementary students to discuss experiments & climate change, I was inspired to start SparkED to build a healthy & sustainable environment. After working in Texas A&M NCTM biotech labs, I was saddened by the amount of plastic waste from science labs across the globe: I wanted to find a more sustainable solution! Combining my organization's philanthropic efforts with my desire to gain scientific academic prowess, my life mission is to innovate, research, explore, & help the community for a sustainable future.
5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”
In the future we hope to organize an annual conference for all to attend and learn more about STEM. We are honored to receive this opportunity to work with General Motors and Ashoka to create a sustainable and knowledgeable future!
6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.
I have inspired 1000+ youth by organizing citywide talks by professionals, motivating my peers through keynote speeches at District Summits, hosting camps by Harvard students in Austin at low costs, creating summits in India to guide girls from low socioeconomic areas, partnering for tech literacy programs to mothers from underserved communities, & by researching & presenting on Vaping at Austin Science Fair. I have fostered knowledgeable minds, ready to serve Earth on a path of sustainability.
7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
SparkED offers resources to youth to increase their literacy & engagement in STEM for a successful life. We aim to fill the gap of minimal annual conferences, summits, & talks for families to increase appreciation of our environment and science awareness. We showcase interdisciplinary fields of STEM, further sparking a deeper passion for science. We inform future generations of developments and issues of our society like CRISPR & excess use of natural resources. We admire other organizations in our community & hope in future, we will better target minority groups by symbiotic partnerships.
8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?
In the past few months, SparkED hosted a summit for 50+ girls in grades 5-12 from low socioeconomic regions in North India. We provided guidance & support to keep them motivated & engaged in school. We worked with Harvard Students & Dell Medical School Doctors to organize Pre-Med camps for high schoolers. We tutored students in 5-9th grade, especially during CoVID pandemic, with all earnings donated to CoVID relief. We hosted a talk with Dell Medical School’s Medical Director on ways youth can keep themselves & their ecosystem healthy. Early spring, I presented my findings on the Vaping pandemic at the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair & won the Superintendent’s award! With these events, we have recently reached an audience of 400+ individuals. We hope that we can expand our reach immensely in future, so that we can help more young children foster their creativity & love for learning!
9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Moving forward, I want SparkED to establish an annual conference focused on underserved students with panels of STEM speakers, mini labs, partner organizations, & other teen leaders. This annual conference will be an admirable series of events aimed to inspire youth, particularly low-income, in exploring possibilities in STEM to better our world. Additionally, we want to open more chapters & create more global summits in addition to continuing the series in India so that global positivity and sustainability is promoted more. I want SparkED to increase partnerships to spread the social cause of education.
10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.
Inviting my friends to join my team at events makes me joyous as I share a big part of my identity, as a scientist, with them! I see them falling in love with science, as I have! As I taught tech literacy to mothers, I made sure their daughters were also engaged in learning. After hosting a talk with a doctor in the fields of anthropology, environmental safety & medicine, a peer told me he never knew such an integration existed! Now each time I host a talk, I see his eager face in the audience!
11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?
SparkED will partner with UT Austin Office of Sustainability, Keep Austin Beautiful, & Environment Texas which all work to increase advocacy & knowledge of environmental problems. This way, we will develop socially responsible, well-educated youth who care for the environment’s wellbeing. SparkED to partner with MD Anderson Cancer Center & General Motors & Ashoka to allow young children to visit & be amazed by scientific advancements.
12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?
I believe that STEM literacy, more than anything, is vital in order to implement changes & increase global sustainability. Only once people understand what their futures will look like, they will become more aware of changes to be implemented to fix problems & why--for global sustainability, as well as other fields that uniquely address challenges & find solutions to them. By explaining this in conjunction with past efforts & future aspirations, I hope to engage others & get their buy-in.
13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Ms. Shweta Latawa: email@example.com, 713-972-2217
Ms. Alicia Salinas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Josephine Skaer: email@example.com, 512-920-9690
Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Participated in previous Ashoka challenges