By: Ben Brown
The field of STEM (Science, Technology, Electronics, and Mathematics) is growing rapidly and is becoming one of the most sought after career paths in the country. A group of past and present Jenks High School students have started a non-profit called Kamen STEM that has a goal of teaching STEM to the less privileged parts of Tulsa.
Kamen STEM is named after Dean Kamen, one of the most influential people in the field of STEM. He has hundreds of patents to his name and helped found the robotics association that Jenks and many other schools participate in.
The idea of Kamen STEM started with Jenks grad and President of the non-profit, Palmer Tetley.
“I was thinking how could we make a bigger impact than what we believe Jenks Robotics is doing? And how we could expand to everyone in Tulsa,” says Tetley.
Senior and Chief financial officer Viraj Tennekoon and Junior and Head of marketing Grant Doolin have both been involved in STEM for years and jumped on the opportunity to make a difference in the community.
“When we think about our younger selves we didn’t get a lot of STEM opportunities,” says Tennekoon, “This is a way for us to fulfill another younger kid’s dream.”
The company’s operations are based around the goal of bringing STEM to people that may not have STEM programs at their school. For example, working at a building on 21st and Harvard.
“We feel this area needs these kind of opportunities more than, for instance, Jenks because Jenks does have a robotics team and certain opportunities,” says Tetley, “but we are welcome and open to everyone in Tulsa.”
“We’re also trying to aim for homeschool and online schooling where they don’t offer programs like this,” says Doolin, “or Tulsa Public where they don’t have the money to offer programs like this.”
The non-profit has a building on 21st and Harvard that they will open with their first event, Spooky STEMtober. At the event, kids will compete in STEM challenges with candy as a prize.
Once the building is ready, they will be able to run events much more often. They have plans for bi-weekly STEM Saturdays where kids will come to their building for the day and design and build something that they can take home to their parents; it is an entrepreneurship program. It will teach high school and college participants important parts of starting a business and how to work on a budget. Plus, there is STEM Sitting where parents can drop off their kids, and they can spend the day learning and building instead of just hiring a babysitter.
Since Kamen STEM isn’t able to run events in their building, they get involved in STEM programs throughout Tulsa. For example, they built a raft and competed in the Tulsa Raft Race. Most recently, they ran a booth where they taught elementary students how to make dry ice.
“It takes a lot of effort,” says Tennekoon, “but it’s really satisfying in the end seeing the product you’ve created.”
For more info about Kamen STEM: http://184.108.40.206:8000/kamenSTEMhome.html