Full STEAM Ahead

Full STEAM Ahead provides guidance through the entire journey of finding/starting/running a STEAM team through an app for girls and mentors.

Photo of Alyssa Chang Ho
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://steamfullahead.weebly.com/

Date You Started Your Project Started

8/7/2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Gender biases could create biased inventions with skewed data algorithms.The lack of women in STEM is due to the lack of girls on STEM teams such as FIRST Robotics, hackathons, etc. Competing in STEM competitions is the key to sparking girls' interest and love for STEM by providing them hands-on, real world problems they can solve through the thrill of competing as well as gaining the skills and confidence they need for a STEM major in college.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The goal of Full STEAM Ahead is to bring equity, access and diversity into the STEM competitive teams which will in turn affect the outcome for college majors and the workplace. My solution not only aims to expose girls and potential mentors through outreach STEM expos, but to provide guidance through the entire journey of finding/starting a STEM team through an app, and learning to be a successful team through videos and workshops. The details are listed on my website at https://steamfullahead.weebly.com/connect.html, showing my design processes and codes with the support of my mentor from Fandango for the Technovation competition. She also advised me how to organize flow charts and write a business plan. I use MIT App Inventor to code Full STEAM Ahead, but it only works on Android so I'm planning to redo the entire app on Thunkable. My goal is to have a working app by June 2020. My partner will be creating more video tutorials to help new teams learn to code and build robotics, use laser cutters and operate 3D printers.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Every year my robotics team hosted a summer camp for girl scouts. We taught the girls how to build and program mini square bots and concluded in a mini FTC mock competition. Our goal was to inspire these girls to join robotics teams, but after going to camp for three years, I noticed that the impact we wanted was not there. After so many years of summer camp, there was no significant increase of girls participating in robotics, nor an increase of all-girls robotics teams in general. I wondered why. I realized that the problem wasn't the lack of interest, but the lack of guidance on how girls could join or mentors to start a robotics team. I concluded that girls weren't afraid of STEM, but rather they didn't know where to begin in developing that interest. Thus, I was inspired to create this program, Full STEAM Ahead, to ensure easier access for girls and connect mentors to new teams.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make a change because as technology advances, the need to close the gender gap within STEM is growing more important than ever. Biased workplaces invent biased machines and these are the machines that are meant to serve “everyone in the world”. I look around me during my robotics competitions and I’m not even in a workplace, but I can still see a lack of girls working on the robot. The lack of women in STEM starts here with the lack of girls on STEM teams.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

The expo happened on April 6th and every vendor came. The number of participants was around 300 in total! It was quite hectic, but overall, the event went smoothly! The workshops ran well, and the girls really seemed to enjoy themselves! I couldn't believe that I finished it and the impact I made. Many parents learned alot from my parent workshop and more than 80% said in their survey that they were confident in starting a robotics team of their own. It was super awesome receiving their emails looking for contacts to start their own Girl Scout Robotics team! A total of 16 teams were formed. The next step is to help these teams succeed in their competition through workshops and videos. In the future, the app will help get girls involved in STEM teams even if they did not attend my expo.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Full STEAM Ahead isn't just about exposing girls to STEM teams, but to guide them in the entire process of joining or starting a team and making that team successful. Unlike other STEM outreach programs, it is not a single event, but rather a multitude of resources that is accessible to anyone. Although the expos are limited to the places I can reach, the app and videos can be downloaded and seen anywhere. In addition, Full STEAM Ahead is a resource for adults too. The expo had a parent workshop, the app will have a mentor and parent sign in feature, and the videos are aimed toward mentors.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Last April, I organized and directed the first Girl Scout and FIRST Robotics Expo at the Pasadena Central Public Library! The expo consisted of booths hosted by STEM organizations, clubs, and existing Girl Scout robotics teams. Each booth had a fun hands-on STEM activity for the participants. There were also two workshops. One was for the participants where they could learn Scratch and how to build a wheel assembly. The second was for the parents on how they could start their own robotics team. About 300 girls arrived and resulted in 16 new Girl Scout robotics teams. The expo advertised my team's summer camp, the project that inspired Full STEAM Ahead. That summer, the camp sold out for the first time and raised $2,350 for future endeavors! I'm so happy that the expo inspired so many girls to join and start robotics teams. I will mentor these new teams through a 2-day training workshop.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

At my GS & FIRST Robotics Expo I directed, I discovered that the lack of girls on STEM teams was due to the difficulty of finding or joining one. So, I decided to create an app that would match a student and a team automatically by location, interests, and time availability. Ultimately, my aim is to help form more all-girls teams by showing potential mentors from Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and tech companies, such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman about my app. Using it, they can connect with interested girls and learn from the videos on how to start a team. I hope to develop my app further in order to put it up on the app store. But most importantly, I need help marketing and branding the app, so no girls will be left behind.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

AI4ALL

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Photo of Brennan ChangHo
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Too cool! I'm a big fan of your work. You can always count on me to volunteer.

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