21stCentEd Creates Happy Campers through Virtual STEM Camps
A Case Study
Early access to science, technology, education, and math (STEM) learning better prepares students for future opportunities. But, barriers including STEM teacher shortages and budget constraints can limit what resources schools and other institutions are able to provide.
To ensure every student has access to meaningful STEM learning opportunities, entrepreneur and STEM advocate, Marlon Lindsay, launched 21stCentEd, a company that provides accessible, turnkey, and virtual STEM and CTE (career and technical education) programs for school districts, charter, magnet and private schools, and homeschool.
21stCentEd is working to bring STEM education to every student – no matter their location. Read on to learn how 21stCentEd’s Virtual STEM Camps provide a STEM education foundation in a way that’s engaging, fun, and challenging.
STEM education is mission-critical
Born in Jamaica, Marlon Lindsay immigrated to the United States at the age of thirteen, where he has become an entrepreneur, a writer, and an advocate for equitable education. Lindsay is actively working to bring STEM education to every student – regardless of background or location.
“I realized that the need for STEM is bigger than just creating another program for schools,” Lindsay explained. “There’s an urgency around STEM that impacts education, the workforce, and economic development.”
With this urgency in mind, Lindsay launched 21stCentEd.
Virtual STEM Camps provide a STEM education foundation in a way that’s engaging, fun, and challenging.
“STEM is at the heart of everything we do in 2020 and beyond,” Lindsay said. “In the next 10 to 20 years, we need our young people to be engaged in creating technologies that are going to serve us for the rest of our lives.”
STEM shouldn’t be intimidating. To provide an introduction to STEM learning and skills for students and educators, 21stCentEd created a Virtual STEM Camp offering. These camps provide a hands-on intro to STEM and are meant to get learners excited about STEM learning.
Lindsay continuously works to spread awareness about the depth and breadth of opportunities that a STEM education can bring. That’s why each Virtual STEM Camp covers both STEM concepts and how STEM skills can be applied in the real world.
“If we prepare our students well and educate communities about the value and importance of STEM, the impact can grow on a local and national level,” Lindsay said. “If we can prepare our children, their parents, and the community, we can change the trajectory of their lives.”
STEM comes in many flavors
Comprehensive STEM is more than robotics and coding. STEM is a deep and broad field impacting many industries.
“We have the coding classes, we have the robotics classes, but we also have classes covering 3D printing, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and audio mixing,” Lindsay explained. “If we’re looking to get all students involved in STEM, we need to have a gateway for them to find where their interests align, and help them develop confidence.”
There are six Virtual STEM Camp themes (all completely customizable), covering topics like:
Intro to STEM
This camp is designed to be a foundational STEM experience for building 21st century skills around design thinking and what it means to engineer solutions to complex real-world problems..
Internet of Things
This camp emphasizes real-world STEM knowledge and skills through project-based activities using IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, coding, data science, cloud computing, online dash-boarding, and app development.
Intro to Entrepreneurship
The entrepreneurship camp is the perfect place for young campers to begin learning how to start their own business, learning how to create business plans and start making money. Attendees will learn and apply design thinking processes, creative problem solving and the basics of building a business.
Design Thinking through Coding
In this camp, campers learn and use the principles of design thinking to creatively design a simple computer game for someone else. The experience teaches basic coding principles using the Scratch Programming Environment.
3D Modeling and Design
In this 3D animation camp, campers will learn the basics of 3D modeling, and how to animate characters and objects using Blender. Blender is a free, downloadable, industry-level 3D modeling software used in several courses in 21stCentEd’s K-8 Academy.
STEM in Sports: STEMletics
Campers explore the fields of engineering and entrepreneurship through the world of sports. Campers will practice 21st century skills in real life scenarios as they apply an entrepreneurial mindset in creating, marketing, and selling creative products in their own business.
“The reason why the Virtual STEM Camp is so powerful is that it’s short, flexible (can take place over the course of one or two days), and it’s a highly engaging, student-focused experience,” Lindsay said. “In this day and age, engagement can be really challenging for schools – especially during a pandemic, but through these camps, students and their mentors can collaborate, get creative and have meaningful experiences.”
Engage students no matter their location
21stCentEd’s inaugural Virtual STEM Camp, “Engineering Design Thinking for Developing 21st Century Skills”, was held in August 2020.
Parents shared that the event was engaging, collaborative, and fun.
A combined mission to better the lives of students
“Design for Change is an organization that introduces students to the design thinking process, and how to use it to create change in their communities,” said Sanjli Gidwaney, Director at Design for Change. “When we first learned about 21stCentEd, we explored how we could connect our ‘Feel, Imagine, Do, Share’ design process to STEM.”
Design for Change doesn’t specialize in STEM – and that’s what makes its partnership with 21stCentEd especially powerful. When organizations collaborate, leverage expertise and fill in each other’s gaps, students are more likely to succeed. Design for Change collaborated with 21stCentEd to create content for Virtual STEM Camps and beyond.
“The first Virtual STEM Camp was really exciting, it showed us that there’s a huge demand for connecting service, design thinking and STEM, and bringing it all together through one meaningful experience,” Gidwaney said. “The camp became an opportunity to engage students in a virtual setting with design thinking for social change.”
Innerview is a youth social responsibility platform that helps students, schools and other groups connect community service initiatives to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“Although InnerView just kicked off its fourth school year, I’ve personally spent more than two decades working in tech,” explained Kristine Sturgeon, CEO at InnerView. “Like Marlon and 21stCentEd, InnerView believes in providing tech concepts, frameworks, and design thinking to all students – from many perspectives.”
InnerView works with students from ages 14 to 24 from across the U.S., and aligns volunteer opportunities and programs that correlate to the interests, passions, and causes students care about.
“Each InnerView team member works to connect our tech skills to purpose,” Sturgeon said. “We believe the best technology is built by incredible humans with big hearts and big brains.”
A group of InnerView’s student mentors who are passionate about STEM education helped kick off and lead small group sessions during the Virtual STEM Camp, sharing that the event was an amazing and memorable experience.
Virtual STEM Camps are about more than science, technology, engineering, and math. They are an opportunity for students to get hands-on with topics and issues that are relevant to their lives, like social justice, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change.
“We see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and we’ve also seen educational inequities being exacerbated because of the current reality,” Gidwaney said. “There are big opportunities for students to dig into those really relevant topics.”
These are also a social opportunity for kids to connect with mentors and peers, share experiences, and learn together.
Junior Achievement, the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to make smart academic and economic choices, has collaborated with Marlon Lindsay for several years, including a statewide youth entrepreneur contest.
“We’ve collaborated with Marlon Lindsay, MyTechHigh and TechTrep for several years on many different projects, including a statewide youth entrepreneur contest we co-sponsored,” explained Christy Tribe, President & CEO at Junior Achievement of Utah. “[Marlon] did a great job, and was so enthusiastic about inspiring our young campers to spark an interest in technology – he and 21stCentEd were the obvious choice when we were looking for a partner who could help us pilot a virtual STEM camp with very little lead time.”
Accessible STEM resources are in demand – a demand that 21stCentEd and its partners are meeting.
“We had a remarkable response to the Virtual STEM Camp, with 468 students registering within the first three days,” Tribe said. “This response shows that students and parents are ready and excited to embrace virtual education in general, and STEM education specifically.”
According to Sturgeon, “STEM and CTE are essential to solving every challenge our population and planet are facing – we must innovate to drive change. We need to collaborate, remove bias, expand access for all, and start at a young age.”
All Partnering Organizations
We want our kids to get ahead, not just get by
In these uncertain times, we want our kids to get ahead, not just get by. Engaging in STEM experiences today develops key 21st century skills that prepare them for tomorrow.
“We’re committed to partnering with schools of all types to help every student get an essential STEM foundation,” Lindsay said. “Our students can’t fail, because any time they fail that’s just another opportunity for them to get it right.”
We must work together to fill important gaps in STEM education and helps set them up for future success. We must raise STEM-prepared kids. This is why 21stCentEd exists.
21stCentEd’s Virtual STEM Camps are an innovative way to teach students 21st century skills all year round.
To learn more about 21stCentEd’s Virtual STEM Camps, please contact Caitlin Ledger, Media Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.