A major project of MakeKnowledge is what we call “STEM++” — our effort to increase the number of underrepresented students who succeed along STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) pathways from early childhood into careers. Underrepresented students are disproportionally kicked off of STEM pathways. There are a number of specific and predictable obstacles that sideline students, from lack of access and mentorship, to overt sexism and racial discrimination. There are also many less visible issues along the way, many of which profoundly affect students’ ability to see themselves as “STEM people,” i.e., people who are capable of continuing to engage seriously in STEM fields. There is a lot of mythology about who can succeed in STEM, and sometimes schools and even STEM teachers can, with the best of intentions, help to derail and discourage students. The STEM++ project helps to surface the often invisible process of academic identity formation, so schools, parents, teachers, and other advocates can help all of their students.
STEM++ gets its name from the idea that improving the who of STEM — by increasing (plussing) the number of underrepresented students who persist along STEM pathways — requires interrogating and expanding and improving the why and how of STEM.
Our work with schools informs this work, but the STEM++ project goes well beyond this. We have held conferences that brought together people from across the STEM ecosystem (including K-12 and higher education leaders and practitioners, academia, industry, and funders) in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Philadelphia.
In the near future, the work of the STEM++ project involves developing, publishing, and sharing educational resources and information both on the project website (http://stemplusplus.org) and in print format. This will allow teachers, students, parents, and schools to understand the STEM ecosystem, the obstacles that underrepresented students face, and strategies to overcome these obstacles.
Global Climate Changemakers Summit
Around the world, people have come to recognize the tremendous urgency of climate change.
We believe that schools, teachers, and students have vital roles to play in understanding of the climate crisis and its causes; and in designing solutions that address the crisis and its manifold environmental and human effects.
In September 2018, as the eyes of the world are on San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit, hundreds of educators and education leaders will gather for the first Global Climate Changemakers Summit.
Technology & Schools
MakeKnowledge provides technology assistance and support to schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. At first glance, this may seem like fairly straightforward direct service work, similar to the work done by on-site staff, or outside for-profit firms.
However, in our pilot program in Oakland, we showed that our ecosystem approach could multiply our impact and address a number of other important areas, including opening up new STEM pathways for underrepresented students.
On top of robust and flexible infrastructure, we actively seed and promote broad technology opportunities inside schools, such as developing Career and Technical Education programs in IT, Computer Science, and Design & Engineering; and launch and support extracurricular programs in STEM including Computer Aided Design, robotics, and more. We work with community and corporate partners not only to support after-school clubs and periodic hackathons, but also to guide students to community-based opportunities and organizations to extend their learning in internships, summer learning, and other opportunities.
Focusing on maximizing educational opportunities for the school and its constituents allows MakeKnowledge to develop educational technology systems and solutions that are sustainable for the school.