OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

NYCxSTEM

To create a lending library & ambassador network to instill a love of STEMlearning in underserved NYC middleschool students especially girls

Photo of Alexandra
5 4

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Middle school children from low-income communities typically have 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment activities compared with their middle-class peers. This means that by the first day of 6th grade, a child attending a low-income school has likely never visited a science museum and has fewer resources for exposure to STEM experiences and instruction. Girls in low-income NYC schools are, in particular, hardest hit with less than 15% of low income girls expressing an interest in STEM. In contrast, 93% of parents report that they want their child to study STEM subjects.
 
Recent studies have shown a 12 percentage point increase in math and science testing for students who are provided with information on the importance of science, technology, engineering and math. The same students also are likely to be more interested in pursuing STEM careers, including taking STEM classes in college and having a favorable impression of the fields.

For schools like Bronx Alliance Middle School, only 9% of students met State standards on the State math test, thus proving that STEM initiatives are critical. The problem however is that many of the NYC schools, particularly in the Bronx, are underfunded and lack the teaching staff and equipment essential to STEM education.

We believe that all kids in NYC deserve equal access to STEM resources. NYCxSTEM provides under served NYC school communities with an easy way to supplement their curriculum. Principals and teachers can visit http://www.nycxstem.org to request a STEM project. Projects range from engineering and environmental challenges to computer science and robotics. A NYCxSTEM team, made up of 6 high school students (ambassadors) and an advisor, bring STEM kits directly to the classroom. The team members then set up the kits in the classroom and provide an overview of STEM and direction for the students. At the end of the project, students present their creation to the rest of the class.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our primary beneficiaries are low income middle school students in under served NYC public schools, particularly in the Bronx. Exposure to STEM projects starting in 5th grade has been shown to encourage students 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 like future career paths. Our secondary beneficiaries are NYC public school principals and teachers. Through NYCxSTEM activities, teachers gain experience in teaching STEM to kids. Stem training sessions for volunteer ambassadors can be made available to teachers as well. Finally, our tertiary beneficiaries are NYC public and private high school students. Through the program, high school students with an interest in STEM fields will gain valuable experience in teaching and volunteering.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are uniquely positioned to tap into and engage NYC High School Students, especially students looking to complete volunteer requirements for their college applications. Our program will work closely with existing NYC non-profits to recruit and engage students. We also plan to provide student volunteers/ambassadors with rewards for exceptional participation and contributions. Rewards can be in the form of college recommendation letters, school or press recognition, and eventually scholarships. We also have strong connections with the NYC public and private school communities as well as STEM education communities. In addition, our program is based on open source platforms and can be easily expanded and adopted for use in other communities. The STEM kits are not limited to classroom use. They can also be used for after school programs, Maker Faires, and can be offered to existing STEM organizations for use.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

http://NYCxSTEM.com is a new not-for-profit initiative working to provide NYC middle school students with equal access to STEM resources and services.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we plan to register in the future.
  • No, but we are a formal initiative through an accelerator, hub, or other entity.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In 2016, 91% of students FAILED to meet NY State’s standards. I was appalled when I discovered this. Even more shocking is that less than 12 miles away are some of the highest performing schools in the country including my school. Through the Marymount School of New York, I have been exposed to STEM since Kindergarten. The education I received has shaped my life. I want to share my knowledge, contacts, & opportunities to provide equal access to STEM education & instill a love of STEM learning.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity is influenced by education inequality in New York City which has specifically hurt low income middle school students especially girls. The planet is impacted by waste and ignorance both of which are addressed through the recycling and reuse of STEM kits and environmental education activities.
NYCxSTEM creates a bridge between high school and middle school students through peer-to-peer learning. It also creates a bridge between parents and teachers. Students in the classroom will receive a report card. The report card would not actually grade the student on the project but would let the parents know about STEM activities their child accomplished in the classroom.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Coordinating with NYC Schools: We will work with school principals & education consultants such as GenerationReady.
Creating STEM kits: We will use guidelines developed by the National Science Foundation as well as research from colleges, such as the Cornell Education Center, to determine the best common core STEM projects for middle school students. We have also contacted a number of manufacturers such as Littlebits and Lego who have pledged support for the program.
Recruiting Volunteers: We will work with private and public school guidance counselors with emphasis on counselors at specialized high schools. We will also work organizations such as the Joint School Association JSA, Columbia Girls in Stem, NY Public Library, National Girls Collaborative Project, Make & Teach For America. We can recruit advisors from local NYC businesses & colleges.
Operations: We have teachers from the Marymount School of New York, an all girls Catholic STEM school

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The greater NYC area has an abundance of strong high school students looking to complete volunteer work for college applications. There are few, if any, STEM based volunteer options. There are also many complementary organizations, not-for-profits and manufacturers, with whom we can share ideas, fundraise and coordinate resources.

Geographic Focus

Greater NYC area with specific focus on the Bronx.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Once we have the kits in place (4-6 months) we can begin the school visits. We have already approached and been approved by two NYC Bronx schools and have an initial team of ambassadors in place. The website should take approximately 4-6 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

5 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Mélanie Marcel
Team

Great idea. I would encourage you to check out the work of La main à la pâte (https://www.fondation-lamap.org/en/international) that developed a lot of pedagogical tools and toolkit to teach science to middle school students! It is initially a French Foundation but they also have operations in the US.
I would have love to see your link to the subject on a personal point of view when you answer the question "tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project": for now it is very rational and based on numbers but we do not know exactly why YOU were interested in that.
All the best!

Photo of Alexandra
Team

Hi Melanie,
Thank you for the terrific resource. You were right that La Main a la Pate has amazing toolkits. Are you involved in the program? If not do you know of anyone who is? I would definitely include them in the project. Have already downloaded a dozen pdfs! I will also go back and improve on my inspiration response. I am a High School student at Marymount NYC and am shocked and outraged by the inequalities in STEM learning.
Best,
Alexandra

View all comments