By Flora Gonska:
STEMTeen is an awesome organization connecting young people with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and social change opportunities. The STEM fields are often seen as future-oriented education and career paths. More than ever before, young people need a proficient understanding of these subjects in order to pursue meaningful employment. The founders of STEMTeen spoke with me about their organization, creating and sustaining change, and hopes for the future.
FG: Tell us all about you and your organization! We (Manasa Lingireddy and Mishti Dhawan) started STEMTeen in September 2018 because we felt that there are a lot of barriers, like socioeconomic status, within the STEM field that often make STEM inaccessible to youth. When looking for STEM opportunities ourselves to explore the field of technology, we often didn’t apply for programs at prestigious universities because of how expensive they were. So, we founded STEMTeen to provide STEM-based opportunities to youth for free. Through STEMTeen, we host workshops internationally (hands-on STEM workshops, networking events, social change-based leadership trainings), and publish free study-based resources on our blog. STEMTeen has 7+ international chapters in over 5 countries. We are partners with 6 other organizations, including but not limited to Student Art Spaces, Girl Genius Magazine, etc. Through our workshops, articles, and social media campaigns, we have impacted over 1,500+ youths.
Did you know: STEM workers tend to earn more than similarly educated non-STEM workers. (Pew, 2018)
FG: Why do you think it’s important for your generation to let their voices be heard?
We are optimistic about the future because we’ve been seeing an increase in youths taking initiative. There have been so many different youth-led organizations aiming to solve social problems, such as Zero Hour, Climate Strike, etc. By taking initiative, these students are helping create a future full of inclusivity and open mindedness.
FG: What are the most important issues facing our world right now? And in the future?
We think that climate change is definitely one of the biggest issues facing our world right now. It is the biggest threat to our planet and its people, and we need to take action. At STEMTeen, we do our part to combat the climate crisis by educating youths about sustainability through our environmental science-based workshops. We also teach youth skills that will help them become changemakers in their own communities and tackle social issues such as climate change in the future.
FG: What does your organization offer that helps the world be a better place?
To make STEM more accessible to youths from low-income families, STEMTeen organizes free STEM-based workshops across several states and countries. However, these workshops don’t just introduce youths to STEM, they also teach youths crucial leadership skills, because these workshops are social-change themed. For instance, in the past, we’ve had workshops based on climate change and female entrepreneurship—all with the lens of STEM. Through these workshops, we equip youths with leadership skills such as teamwork, communication, and critical thinking while also discussing important STEM concepts and exploring STEM. Along with workshops, we also publish articles on our website. These articles provide study tips and feature stories of inspirational leaders in the global community. Through our articles, we hope to not only help students perform better in school but encourage them to become changemakers in their communities.
FG: Will you be voting in the next election?
Unfortunately, we won’t be eligible to vote in the next election. However, we both have been part of several voter-registration drives and are excited to continue that work to encourage eligible youths to register to vote!
FG: Please tell us all about your current campaigns, projects, and endeavors.
Currently, both of us are working to expand STEMTeen! We’re looking for youth leaders from the global community who are interested in setting up chapters for STEMTeen in their local/regional communities. We already have 7+ chapters set up internationally. STEMTeen offers great flexibility to chapter leaders in that they can set up either high school clubs, peer tutoring programs, or even local STEM events that aren’t affiliated with a school. Students interested in becoming chapter leaders can apply to start a chapter directly at our website.
FG: Tell everyone where to find you online and on social platforms.
You can check out our website at: https://stemteen.wixsite.com/stemteen
Instagram & TikTok: @stemteen
This pair is truly inspiring! How incredible is it to find young people with a vision for international organization focused on enabling Gen Z folks to live successful, well-adjusted lives. During a time as tumultuous as we're facing, it's wonderful to see the youth continuing to pull through! I hope you enjoyed this interview, keep an eye out for more!
A Cleveland, OH, native, Flora Gonska is a non-binary trans woman from a big family. She's a writer, video producer/editor, and artist. An avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and equality movement, she has lived in Los Angeles for three years, and she's involved in and enjoys writing on politics, the LGBTQ+ community, and life in the U.S.