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
This afternoon, students in the Science of Renewable Energies course were learning what data are, how to collect them carefully and then how to use to data to detect trends. They talked about when to impute meaning to the trends they saw. A mother who was listening in texted her husband to indicate that her son was learning university-level material.
We were excited that the students demonstrated the capacity, self discipline, collaborative spirit and smiles while building their dataset. One student did not want to leave even though class had ended. Not unusual at Ti2.
Next week they will enter their data into excel and learn how to interpret basic regression analyses. Why? Because they are capable of doing it, and it offers them another (and likely new) way to think and analyze.
These types of joyful learning moments are the norm in our courses. Its tough to report on them regularly, however.
We are truly so busy focusing on student learning. So, we may not be marketing gurus or have a big budget and corporate backers, but something fundamentally special is going on here. Young people are engaging in amazing and meaningful learning, and they are doing so with joy and humor.
Sorry, we did not have time to take pics for posting.