The Innovation Institute (Ti2) is proud to announce its partnership with CuSTEMized, an award-winning creator of personalized educational storybooks that encourage kids in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Recognized by organizations as diverse as the Anita Borg Institute, Harvard Medical School, Scholastic Publications, BostInno, Scientista, Johns Hopkins University, and TEDx, CuSTEMized is a nonprofit that engages, encourages, and empowers young girls in STEM by providing them with tangible products and educational experiences that foster a positive scientific identity from a young age.
CuSTEMized was founded by Jean Fan, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics at Harvard University, as a response to the dearth of women in STEM:
“I think STEM is really cool. That's why I'm pursuing my PhD in a STEM field. But when I started my PhD program, I realized I was the only girl in my class. So I volunteered to teach young girls science. At the end of the year, I wanted to provide my students with a personalized gift that would teach them about all the scientific careers I didn't have a chance to tell them about and remind them that I believed in them. I saw how these personalized messages resonated with my students, so with a little imagination and computer science skills, CuSTEMized was born. I really do believe that when we empower our girls with the confidence and STEM skills to create tools for their community, they will change the world.”
CuSTEMized uses proceeds from book sales, along with donations, to provide free books to underserved communities. It also leads fun-filled, hands-on learning STEM enrichment events in collaboration with local Boston libraries and organizations including Ti2.
Ti2 hosted an “If You Can See it, You Can Be it” CuSTEMized coloring event in 2016. (photos below) Jean also has been devoting time to developing and teaching computer programming at The Innovation Institute for the past two years. Her course is a hands-down favorite amongst students. Kamil, who works with her, is also a Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD candidate at Harvard. The creativity of CuSTEMized is ever present in these classes, inspiring students to learn to code for example in order to develop apps and websites that help increase the visibility of topics of societal importance to each student.
“It is always such a privilege when rising stars such as Jean take time from their already demanding schedules to teach young people. She serves as a role model for all of our students but particularly our female students who still have fewer relatable mentors and instructors in computer science than needed.” Jennifer Montana, founder and executive director, The Innovation Institute