Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you or the person who came up with your proposed solution to get started and/or to see the potential for it to succeed.
ELiTE was inspired by a 2009 research project I started with other Columbia Engineering undergrads to design an Engineering Summer Camp in a Box. Having never traveled outside the country, I bought a plane ticket to Ghana, loaded cardboard boxes full of science equipment, and embarked on my adventure. Within a week there were 60 students enrolled in the program. The success of year one has lead my team and I to think critically about the need for this work around the world. We’ve since developed a low-cost and scalable model for STEM education that we have used to educate 400+ disadvantaged students in Ghana, Jamaica, Tanzania, Mexico, and Harlem.
Impact: What is the impact of your solution to date? Also describe the projected future impact. (If your solution is an idea you can just describe projected future impact.)
ELiTE has had measurable successes both in the US and abroad. We are excited about the recent successes of our program abroad where our student was the first ever to take the AP Computer Science exam in Ghana-- earning a 4. And although we have only been working in Harlem for a couple of years, we have a number of success stories. The previously mentioned student, KW, is now working towards his dream of becoming a software engineer. Additionally, with support from Google, our school based programs at Bread and Roses and FDA HS have produced incredible projects including solar cell phone chargers, mobile robots, a $100 homemade computer, solar cells, and water purification systems leading us to scale up this year to support 5 schools.
Full Impact Potential: How do you plan on spreading your solution moving forward? (Please consider spread within New York City or beyond, policy reform, how you might get others to replicate/adopt your solution or other mechanisms)
ELiTE seeks to become a model of change for STEM programs in resource-limited communities. Our director, Chelsey Roebuck, has been invited to speak at events such as TEDx Columbia Engineering and the Google Roots in Science and Engineering Summit to share his ideas on improving access to quality STEM education. We will also bring our “STEM in a Box” kits and “STEM Cookbook” website to market soon sharing curriculum, experiments, and ideas with communities near and far. Also, in NYC we have established partnerships with Brotherhood Sistersol and the Columbia University School of Social Work to provide professional development and instruction to their students and staff for sustainable agriculture and robotics program design.