Instilling essential life technology skills in youth everywhere and using innovative STEM education to change the world
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Twitter (new): https://twitter.com/stem_future
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
I saw the lack of tech literacy (computer science, coding, online safety) around me - there are only 12 students in my AP CompSci class in a school with over 1000 students! This showed me that a 1 year class commitment is too daunting for people who want to learn just the basics.
I also saw the implications of the lack of tech literacy - my friends and I were never taught online safety, and our email accounts and social media would frequently get hacked!
People in my STEM classes are constantly saying “this is boring”, and "how am I gonna use this in real life?". I understood their frustration with the dry school STEM curriculum, and I wanted to change this by showing them the innovative real-world applications of STEM.
When I started out on my technology journey, I remember being very confused about how to go about it! (What should I use? How do I START?).
This is my story of why I wanted to make change by using my passions for STEM, tech literacy, and making social innovation.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
We live in the age of STEM and tech, yet most people don’t have basic/essential tech skills; they should because tech is everywhere! There are a plethora of courses and online resources, but they’re hard to navigate and unappealing to a wide audience (such as beginners who just want the usable basics). Schools teach STEM topics rather pedagogically - making STEM seem abstract and dry - leading students to believe that it isn’t exciting.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Distributing our brief, effective online workshop series called: Tech-1-2-3 (https://stemfuture.org/tech-1-2-3-online-workshop/) which is an online, self-guided workshop that teaches learners these basic tech skills: intro to computer science, coding, and online safety - all within just 1-3 hours of learning! This workshop cuts out unnecessary information, appealing to everyone (those who don’t have huge interest in tech can still finish it and glean all the important info that they need. Also, those who are interested in tech will enjoy it, and they have resources from us where they can take their learning to the next step).
Next steps guides written for different stages of the tech journey, from “just beginning” to “next level learning”
Our Innovation curriculum shows that STEM is more than just the textbook knowledge in school, it is the new tech that is changing the world (ex. big data and artificial intelligence). Schools teach students about tech in an abstract/dry way - Innovation teaches learners about real world tech, making it new, practical, and unique.
Challenges to help learners think of STEM as a way to create large, meaningful change and solve problems.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Sample STEM learning progression of someone who uses STEMFuture curriculum and resources:
- Learn basic tech skills like interdisciplinary computer science, online safety(malware terms, phishing, passwords, Internet of Things), coding logic
Become interested, read our guide on how to pursue tech further
- Includes lots of guidance, links to resources, and potential paths they could take, based on combining their individual interests with technology
Use our Innovation curriculum
- Read info about the latest cutting-edge tech is changing and how it is being used to change the world (stark difference from textbook STEM/tech knowledge learned in school)
Use it and knowledge learned to enter our challenge
- How to use STEM and tech to make the world better
Join our mentorship network and ask experienced mentors for advice/questions on how to pursue STEM
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Using a brief, high impact, immediately usable online workshop that equips learners with essential life tech skills within just 1-3 hours (many intro tech courses are too long/delve too deep and disinterest those who do not already have an interest in tech)
-Computer science with interdisciplinary focus, so the content appeals to a wider range of youth
-Cybersecurity/eSafety - extremely relevant topics that are not even taught in most schools!
-Self-guided, no guidance needed from instructors
Innovation curriculum - practical, new STEM, inspiring youth to use STEM to make a better world
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Impacted 200+ learners through our workshops
- many reported that they felt more educated in STEM, tech, and online safety topics (ex. 100% of our survey responses for online safety said they felt empowered to be good digital citizens and more educated in protecting their data and privacy!)
- many teachers at our workshops felt that their students really gained a lot of tech knowledge and were have fun doing our unique coding activities (read about what they had to say here: https://stemfuture.org/testimonials/)
Impacted youth in local schools, youth organizations, libraries, computer clubs
Implemented national chapters to bring impact to communities
Working with 500 school districts and many national level organizations to spread our curriculum, resources, and ideas; potential to impact hundreds of thousands of youth!
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
- Large scale distribution of our curriculum (to school districts, underserved communities, public libraries, youth clubs and organizations)
- Getting in touch with educators/public officials from underserved communities to explain our pitch/online workshop that teaches essential tech skills
- International challenge (to show how STEM can and should be used to solve big problems)
- Establishing mentorship network
- Show youth that STEM isn’t just textbook! Expand our Innovation curriculum to more topics, work with professionals in the field to help us write it and provide advice on how to make it better
- Create video curriculum (immersive content to present information to youth in a fun way) for Innovation and Tech-1-2-3
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
What we have: website, local and state support, some partnerships, some chapters
What we need:
-- Making curriculum more professional (videos for Tech-1-2-3 and Innovation)
-- Social media promotion
-- STEM challenges prize money
-- Expanding to underserved communities requires creating a network of educators from those communities who want to bring STEM to their youth - need mentor support/connections to help us assemble said network and distribute our curriculum
-- Asking professionals to contribute to our Innovation curriculum
-- Mentors to help us scale our impact and give advice/network for outreach
-- Mentors for our mentorship network
-- More chapter leaders/partnerships
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
I was able to get others involved in STEMFuture through contacting organizations to set up partnerships, setting up several meetings to present about STEMFuture to district officials and distributing our curriculum through them, spreading the word in youth STEM communities about our chapters to find chapter leaders, and establishing presence on social media. It was quite a challenging task to get people involved at first, but I’ve found that when you’re truly passionate about your mission (as I am), people can’t help but notice and join you in making it a reality!
Other changemakers could provide us with mentors that we need for our STEM mentorship network. If they’re working to improve general conditions underserved communities, we could work with them to provide them the resources and assistance for the STEM/tech literacy aspect of improving conditions. We could promote each other's missions in that way.
In terms of involving other young people to make a difference - STEMFuture has Impact Chapters (bringing our impact to your local community) and we choose young people to be our chapter leaders so they can do that and help spread our mission far and wide
How did you hear about this challenge?