The STEMInnovation Program
Our solution's stage of development:Early
The STEMInnovation Program is an innovative education program for teaching young women computer science through robotics, career presentations, programming, and creative #unplugged activities. The STEMInnovation Program's primary goal is to distribute a free computer science curriculum to be implemented in clubs, organizations, and programs throughout the world.
1. The STEMInnovation Program is a unique and fresh perspective on addressing the gender gap through it’s Free Distributable Curriculum with two separate pathways. For a global and rural focus, the #Unplugged curriculum does not require any internet access and comes with all the tools necessary to follow through with the curriculum.
The #Unplugged activities focus on teaching creativity, problem-solving, and other skills that programming offers to students. The #Plugged track implements apps, online modules, various compilers, and technologies to connect learning inside of the classroom to everyday activities. In both tracks, students can take what they learn during sessions home and practice programming for fun.
Piloted at a Title 1 Middle School in Austin, Texas the format of the STEMInnovation Program has turned out to be a success. Students have gone from not knowing what Scratch was to programming full games in the language.
2. The STEMInnovation Program teaches important leadership skills, overcoming bias in the workplace, and confidence exercises along with a basic foundation in technology and computer science through the free distributable curriculum that can be implemented into any club, organization, or classroom. It seeks to educate, empower, and inspire young women throughout the world to be confident in their abilities while learning all about careers in technology and the applications of technology in the future for free.
3. The STEMInnovation Program will affect change across the world because of how accessible and easy to implement the curriculum is. Students with internet access in Ghana to students without internet access in rural Russia can all learn about the fascinating future of technology and gain foundational skills for free. Furthermore, the pure flexibility of the program allows it to be incorporated into classrooms, clubs, and other after school programs with ease.
60% of K-12 schools in the United States do not offer computer science classes. Furthermore, there is a lack of computer science programs that focus on women and take a creative approach to programming. The majority of the classes offered abide to a strict curriculum that does not allow students to explore their own interests. After school programs and clubs tend to be concentrated with male students and can be an intimidating environment for interested female students. The STEMInnovation Program solves the problem of a lack of creative, flexible, and free programs that focus on empowering young women in technology.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
Programs that educate, inspire, and motivate young women to learn and enjoy computer science are essential to closing the current gender gap in technology fields. The years of middle school are formative to young women developing skills and personality traits. Teaching students to focus on confidence and positivity during these years through programs such as the STEMInnovation Program translates these skills to further education and the workplace. From the pilot program at Burnet Middle School, the majority of students were able to advance from learning the basics of Scratch to programming full games in just 5 sessions.
Our target outcomes:
The main target outcome of the STEMInnovation Program is for 100 people across the United States and 50 people in other countries to download the curriculum by mid-2018. Another important target outcome is for 100 clubs across the world to utilize the curriculum by mid-2018. Overall, the STEMInnovation Program plans to impact at least 2000 girls by 2019. Each potential user of the curriculum fills out a Google Form which helps us track the number of people using the curriculum. Once a potential user fills out the Google Form, they are emailed/mailed the curriculum and mailed a box of supplies.
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Why our solution is unique:
The STEMInnovation Program is unique with its two curriculum tracks and its focus on leadership and career discussion. While other programs exist to teach young women computer science, none have a free curriculum that caters to young women with and without access to internet. The STEMInnovation Program also distributes the curriculum to anyone who is interested in learning how to code. The STEMInnovation Program utilizes a variety of technology from Scratch to Jupyter Notebooks for Python to provide a well-rounded foundation in technology. The upcoming STEMInnovation App is free, doesn’t require internet access, and is fun to use.
Why our solution is human-centered:
The #Unplugged curriculum is specifically developed for those in underserved communities who deserve the same knowledge of technology skills as the rest of the population. The current technology used in both the #Unplugged and #Plugged curriculum is free, easy to use, and comes with detailed instructions for students and instructors. Projects in both curriculums connect students’ new technology skills to bettering their community. Once the STEMInnovation app is deployed, it will have a FAQ and Help section for users. Furthermore, the STEMInnovation Program believes in effective communication and has a 1-day guarantee response time to questions, inquiries, and help needed.
How people will access our solution:
Any potential user simply goes our accessible website and fills out a quick Google Form with their name, email, address, geographical location, and purpose and immediately receives a pdf of the curriculum. The STEMInnovation Program is free for potential users who plan to bring it to their after school programs and clubs and for students in underdeveloped communities who want to learn in their spare time. Each registrant is mailed a materials kit along with a paper copy of the curriculum for free. Once the STEMInnovation app is created and tested, it will be on the App Store for free.
Technology-Readiness Level:4-5 (Prototyping)
How we will sustain our team financially:
We received a $2500 grant from the National Center for Women and Information Technology's AspireIT Program last year and have a surplus left over after last year's program. We applied for a $3000 grant from the AspireIT program for the 2017-2018 school year and will receive news on that soon. As we grow and scale our solution and deploy more curriculums and supply kits, we plan to apply for other grants to sustain ourselves as we are a not-for-profit.
The factors limiting our success:
Lack of resources to distribute materials to every single club and funding to cover the costs of resources.
How long we have been working on our solution:2 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:1-3 months
Our expected annual budget:
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We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
As a woman who has experienced pushback in STEM and computer science specifically through numerous occasions, my passion for women's empowerment through technology is my main drive for applying to Solve. I could not gain the resources and knowledge that MIT Solve provides elsewhere. The diverse community that Solve builds every year is incredible and I plan to take full advantage of the mentorship offered, to connect with other Solvers, and to use Solve as a platform to promote and grow the STEMInnovation Program.
Our current partners:
- Akshara Anand The STEMInnovation Program