Our mission is to use science, technology and engineering to develop persistent curiosity and to show that knowledge is empowering.
Iridescent seeks to expand the reach and impact of our programs to reach as many needy students as possible.
Iridescent’s mission is to inspire and support children from underrepresented communities to become problem solvers, creators, engineers, scientists, and inventors. Our goal is to lift communities out of generational poverty by increasing access to technical careers.
Research shows that early, deep, broad, long, customized and direct support is needed to overcome the achievement gap for underrepresented communities. Such support comes at a very high cost and is not scalable.
We leverage technology and parent networks to achieve the necessary intensity and dosage of support. Our approach has three aspects:
We have two physical engineering design studios (in South Los Angeles and South Bronx, NYC) that support families in the community with access to engineers, materials and supplies, tools, technology, and books.
We aim to achieve the following:
The following aspects of our approach make us unique and set us up for long-term success, scale and sustainability.
FIVE YEAR GOALS
The path to becoming a successful problem solver, investigator and inventor is long and arduous. The “drill and kill” method to build factual knowledge isn’t enough to sustain this journey. Iridescent’s approach is to “inspire and equip”; to set very high expectations, show the tremendous possibilities, and then to build the necessary support infrastructure for a child to be successful on a multi-year expedition of higher-order learning.
Our approach for large-scale, long-term impact on STEM education for underrepresented communities has three aspects:
BUILDING COLLECTIVE EFFICACY Instead of working with individual families, we will focus on groups of families so that a community’s social habits would encourage scientific and academic exploration, rather than pulling people away. Families who regularly attend our Family Science Courses will be invited to run similar courses for a few neighboring families at their homes. Iridescent will provide access to content and materials, but the families will drive the sessions. The goal is to transform STEM learning and exploration from a decision into a habit that draws on already-existing social urges and patterns.
COMMUNICATING THE MOST EXCITING ASPECTS OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION
Too often intervention programs for underserved communities have low expectations, rely heavily on ineffective teaching methods and extinguish the natural curiosity a pre-schooler exhibits. Our approach is to “inspire and equip”; bringing in the most notable experts in science and engineering to these communities to show them what is possible to achieve and how to achieve it. Experts share their strategies for learning new content, articulating questions, defining problems, exploring and comparing different solutions and overcoming failure. It is so much more interesting to learn about jellyfish locomotion and to learn about Newton’s laws of motion in that context, than to just memorize the laws themselves.
CURIOSITY MACHINE – A MOBILE PLATFORM TO PROVIDE CONTENT SUPPORT Success for us is when children become self-directed learners; when they move beyond passive consumption of information, start constructing their own interpretations, and contribute to the knowledge base by innovating. To be able to do so, we need to develop their problem solving skills, persistence, and courage over many years. Mobile technology presents the ideal platform through which we can scalably provide the high dosage and quality of content support needed to make these higher-order learning gains.
HOW DOES IT WORK? The sequence of activities and support will be as follows:
FIVE YEAR GOALS
TECHNOVATION CHALLENGE VISION STATEMENT
Technovation Challenge aims to inspire and support girls to become creators and inventors of technology. Research shows that the social conditioning girls receive as children, to be nurturers and not explorers, runs very deep, and it takes a lot to uproot it. However, a powerful, positive computer science learning experience in high school can become the deciding factor in girls’ decision to major in computer science. Such experiences can fundamentally increase their self-confidence which is the significant difference (and not ability) between male and female computer science students.
The Technovation Challenge brings high-school girls and professional tech women to work together to develop mobile phone applications in a ten week program. In addition to teaching computing and problem solving skills, the program has a start up, real-world component that requires each team to develop a business plan and take their ideas to market. At the end of the program, teams compete by pitching their apps to a panel of venture capitalists.
IMPACT The program is powerful for both the girls and the mentors as it provides a safe environment for them to step out of their comfort zone and take risks with computation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Over the past three years over 800 high-school girls have programmed 125 mobile phone apps and learned how to launch their startups. 94% of these girls now believe that a career in technology is a viable option for them. Watch our short overview video.
VISION Our five year goal is to annually engage 200,000 girls world-wide. To make this scale-up a reality and a success, our approach has three key aspects:
Online, scaffolded content – We will develop a sequenced, well documented, online curriculum that provides an introduction to programming, mobile phone application development for various platforms such as the Android, Windows and iOS and entrepreneurship. We also plan to provide an online, professional development course on women executive leadership and entrepreneurship that are targeted towards the women mentors to help them develop as leaders. Both courses would be run as massively, open, online courses (reaching >100,000 female students) to significantly increase our impact.
Vibrant, global community of women developers – To ensure year-long support and engagement with the girls and mentors, we will build an exclusive online community of girls and women developers through which participants can share their code, get their problems solved and support each other to take their app ideas to market.
Community of resources – We will engage global, corporate partners, venture capital firms, universities and high schools to build a strong infrastructure that can support high school girls towards a career in computing. Each of these partners will provide the following support to enable our vision to become a reality: