In 2015, a teacher reached out to me to share a story a couple of weeks after I provided her with full support her at a Title 1 school to organize their Science & Engineering Fair. She explained how one of her most at-risk students had come to her the day after the fair and had declared that he was going to be an engineer when he grew up. From that point forward, he had totally turned around his behavior in class.
He was focused.
He was dedicated.
He had found something that he connected with.
He believed in himself and knew “Hey I can do this!”
This life-changing experience and countless other experiences like it since then, have marked the birth of what has become STEM Generation DBA Science Fair Fun and it’s flagship programming. These experiences inspire our team to create life-changing opportunities for under-represented students every day.
STEM Generation DBA Science Fair Fun levels the tech & engineering playing field using a new, 21st Century approach to Science Fairs and students’ support – STEM Generation Fairs. We are a 501c3 equipping girls & students of color at high-need schools with leadership and STEM skills they need to tap into strong economic opportunities all around them.
Students – particularly girls – begin to decide by 3rd grade whether they are capable or incapable in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM), while elementary school teachers have the greatest need for support and resources in this area. By the end of 6th grade, students born in poverty have had 6,000 fewer hours of learning than their peers – that’s equivalent to nearly 6 full years of education. This monumental gap in early learning exasperates K12 achievement gaps and disparities in the STEM workforce. We’re addressing this gap head on through our programming.
So how do we do it? First, we inspire students to connect with science, technology and engineering behind things in their everyday lives. They make observations, they ask questions, and we provide direction on where to go to answer those questions. At this point, they are hooked and leading their own learning. Then we take them into a new and innovative framework of a Science & Engineering Fair that is inclusive and skills-based. From there, we empower them to design authentic projects all around these things that inspire them. We do this by providing students with the tools they need to develop skills for success and by supporting all of the grownups around them so they can effectively mentor those students.
Our end goal is to get kids excited about exploring science, engineering and technology careers. We do this starting as early as elementary school so that kids can continue to apply their skills – namely creativity and problems solving – throughout their K12 education. As you may know, kids – especially girls – identify as being STEM capable as early as 3rd Grade. So, it is essential that we give students the tools they need to have positive experiences in STEM starting early. That way, when it comes time to making decisions about their career paths in high school, they’ll believe in themselves and know “Hey, I can do this!”
So what’s the root for this passion? Wendy Wempe‘s passion and dedication to creating more inclusive and skills-based Science & Engineering Fair opportunities to under-served students. She is the founder and Executive Director of Science Fair Fun. She is also a mother, research scientist, and educator. She ditched her career at a geophysics research professor at one of the top engineering programs in the country to fully dedicating herself to giving K-12 students the tools and resources they need to be successful in STEM through their school-wide Science & Engineering Fairs.
Together let’s level the Science & Engineering Fair playing field and create opportunities for students to develop skills that they need to prepare for engineering and technology careers! Join us!