MOBILE STEM LEARNING
Hired (Contracted) as the Mobile STEM learning project coordinator for a project that didn’t exist! Summer 2016 Open Works, a startup maker space, opened its doors with the mission of making tools, technology, and the knowledge to use them accessible to all. The high volume maker space hosted manufacturing equipment such as CNC machines, laser engravers, a 3D printing lab, sewing lab, and electrical lab.
When I started they had no business plan or outline for the program at all. They wanted me to charge city schools and community centers $150 to give students 30-45 min demo of desktop rapid prototyping technologies and to take pictures of the students for marketing materials. They also wanted me to create a custom STEM curriculum, but provided no criteria of academic standards. The budget for my program was spent before I started and had to fight for a sufficient budget for months.
There is a culture in Baltimore City that allows and perpetuates the undeserving and exploitation of youth, especially black youth. That culture stopped with me.
Once I realized the board members didn’t have a solid plan or strategy, I put my entrepreneur cap on. When you are working with any community that you are not from or a part of, all solutions must be implemented with permission and through co-creation. Did anyone ask community members how the makerspace could provide sustained value? No! So I did.
- Create a business/project outline
- Meet with and survey k-12 students, teachers, and school administration members to understand what their wants, needs and pain points were. What type of subject matter is getting the attention of students right now. What knowledge gaps can the Mobile STEM program fill for teachers?
- Meet with the curriculum designers that created the current STEM learning for Baltimore City schools. At that time, it was SABES (STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools) which began as an NSF-funded (National Science Foundation) collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore City Schools.
- Tailor the existing curriculum and lesson plans, that teachers were already familiar with, to incorporate the foundations of 3D printing and design, CNC machining, power tools, and lo-fi prototyping tools.
I advised all stakeholders, including board members, that the direction they wanted to take was in direct contradiction to the mission statement, and that there was a more appropriate and beneficial way to approach the mobile STEM learning program.
- After surveying over 100 k-12 students and teachers, I translated the data into a customer centric solution.
- I advised the general manager and co-chair that the program would be free for all city schools and community centers for the duration of my contract. Specialized workshops in the future would warrant pricing tiers.
- Spent three months (Nov 2016 - Jan 2017) developing and testing tailored STEM activities and lessons based on the SABES curriculum that students could relate to, and apply in their lives immediately. The activities also incorporated SEL (social-emotional learning) and learning tools/toys into activities. I love Lakeshore!
- Expanded STEM lessons beyond rapid prototyping and introduced students to science, math, and engineering foundation principles in a magical way.
- Began visiting schools and community centers once my monthly operating budget was approved.
- Created feedback surveys for students and teachers ro complete after each visit. Also received feedback from some parents about the changes they noticed in their children at home.
- Created my own marketing materials and leveraged my notoriety in the arts & culture industry to amplify awareness and build a professional network of nonprofit executives, community leaders and members.
- Managed the program independently. (It was just me)
- Didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. I co-created it with the people that were going to use it!
- Successfully designed and implemented Baltimore’s first mobile STEM education program based upon a 15 month research & development strategy for a startup high-volume maker space
- Interviewed 100+ students, teachers, and school board administrators to help create 7 user personas and prioritize features for program MVP (minimum viable product)
- Tested MVP through the facilitation of 40+ workshops with 500+ k-12 students and teachers showcasing rapid prototyping technologies including 3D modeling, 3D printing, and CNC machining
- Exceeded all internal and external stakeholders KPI’s, OKRs and project milestone expectations, and achieved a NPS (net promoter score) of 72 among 100 students and teachers survey at program conclusion
Working with youth and teachers redirected my entire path in life and career. I fell in love with learning & development, and learned the importance of compassion. The experience triggered a massive internal growth phase on an internal and external level.
*will add more documentation when I locate the hard drive!