NYCxSTEM teaches girls in underserved communities in NYC programming fundamentals & computational thinking in fun and hands-on workshops.

Photo of Alexandra Slabakis
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology

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

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

april 20, 2003

Help us stay in touch!

917-667-3105 59 east 79th street new york, ny 10075

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

Date You Started Your Project Started


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

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

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

65% of jobs we as kids will do don’t exist yet, but many of them will be in STEM fields, particularly in computer science. Only 11% of current high school students say they want to pursue a STEM profession. In college women earn 57% of all undergraduate degrees but only 18% of undergraduate computer and engineering degrees. Research shows that girls become interested in STEM subjects around the age of 11 and then quickly lose interest by age 15.

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

Exposure to STEM projects in 4th and 5th grade can encourage students, particularly girls, to take an interest in technological subjects and enhances their development, growth and self-confidence. It also opens up their imagination to previously unimaginable possibilities. Increasing the presence of women in STEM fields, particularly in computer science is important. If these fields remain dominated by only half of all workers, and millions of computer science and STEM jobs go unfilled, we risk missing out on brainpower and innovations that could change the world. NYCxSTEM is in partnership with the National Center for Women and Information Technology and the Marymount School. Funding for the NYCxSTEM program has been graciously donated by Intel, Google, Northrop Grumman, Bank of New York Mellon, Allstate and Apple. NYCxSTEM is also made possible by a generous grant from the Allstate Foundation, and a WE Volunteer Now grant.

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

I learned about a teacher who was spending her own money to help buy resources for her classroom kids. She worked in a NYC school that had little to no access to STEM resources, especially Computing. She mentioned that children, girls in particular, in her class will fall farther behind in STEM learning and future job opportunities. I knew that I wanted to help. Also, I attended Hackathons in NYC and was surprised to find that very few girls were participating. As a student at an all girls school, I know first hand how empowering a single-sex environment for STEM activities can be, especially for girls, to encourage them to try new things. When boys aren't around, girls are more likely to take a risk and try something new. I created NYCxSTEM to give girls the right environment to succeed in STEM.

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

... a combination of social expectations & pressure, gender stereotypes, an absence of role models & a lack of exposure to STEM are limiting girl’s career choices away from STEM fields. The situation is even more desperate in underserved NYC schools where girls’ access to STEM programs are non existent. We must increase the presence of women in STEM fields or millions of future jobs will go unfilled & we risk missing out on diverse pov, brainpower & innovations that could change the world.

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

Each group workshop consists of a short introduction, lesson plan and demonstration, kit assembly, free invention time and a discussion about careers in STEM. After completing our initial introduction to Computing lessons we have the girls work on researching, designing and creating an arcade game that addresses a real world issue impacting their community. For example, litter or recycling could result in a game where participants "throw" their garbage and hit a target. After all girls have finished their work for the day, we invite them to present their finished product. Sharing their discoveries and showing their works is one of the most rewarding parts of the program for everyone involved. We run six to eight consecutive workshops per student to immerse them into computing.

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

We don't just run the workshops, we bring the computers and coding kits with us into the classroom ALONG WITH A TEAM of high school girls to mentor and run the program. Often the schools we work with do not have STEM resources of their own. Since we own our Coding kits, we are able to reach many more students than traditional programs. We also hope to serve as role models for the girls.

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

We have raised grants to purchase littleBits coding kits, and received donations of laptop computers. We have partnered with the Marymount School of NY and the Beacon after school program in Harlem to provide continuous Thursday workshops for up to 24 girls at a time. Our program started this Fall and will run through Spring 2020. By Spring we will have served at least 48 girls with an average of 12 hours of Coding per girl. The biggest difference our project brings is the moment the girls realize that they've done it - they have coded and created something. Their success is contagious!

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

We would like to expand our program to include 8 more Coding kits so that we can accommodate an average size class of 32 with girls working in groups of two instead of three. In addition, we currently work with girls from low income or homeless families in Harlem. We hope to finalize plans with Senator Biaggi of the Bronx to implement additional NYCxSTEM Coding workshops with low income students in her district.

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

  • Staff Development

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

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Disability community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

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

Nicolas Boedicker


Join the conversation:

Photo of Agha Haider

This is genuinely and amazing idea! It's amazing to see the impact you've already made and where you are headed with this initiative. Keep up the awesome work!

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