STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—education has the power to transform the lives of young people by exposing them to new academic and career opportunities. But equity in STEM remains a challenge. World Learning is working to bridge this gap and empower those who have been excluded from STEM through a variety of initiatives.
World Learning’s NextGen Coders Network, a virtual exchange supported by the Stevens Initiative, connects university students and young professionals from Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, and the U.S. to solve real-world problems using code. Through the program, participants are introduced to coding languages and concepts like project management and design thinking.
Students work together in teams, collaborating across borders during a ten-week “hackathon” to create a website or app that will help solve problems in their communities. The program has sought to recruit young women as participants to encourage them to pursue STEM fields. Several of the team projects also focused on addressing issues related to equality in education, including illiteracy, regional education challenges, and helping students choose their university specialization.
“We need more creative minds in STEM,” says Aseel Jawazri, an alumna from Iraq who is interested in the bioinformatics field. “Encouraging more girls to join means encouraging more people overall. This way, our societies might discover more hidden talents and great minds.”
This spring, World Learning also unveiled a free Global STEM Toolkit to further expand access to high-quality education in STEM and assist educators in tailoring lessons based on the unique needs and resources of their students and communities. The team is continuing to support STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting a webinar on adapting STEM lessons for a virtual context and related updates to the toolkit.
“We’re proud to support our participants as they discover their interests and develop their boundless potential.”
Another initiative, the STEM Hub in Egypt, offers programs specially designed to allow participants, age 8–16, to explore, apply, and innovate through inclusive, hands-on activities and a project-based learning approach. At the onset of the pandemic, the STEM Hub team quickly transformed their curriculum into virtual challenges and courses that students could take online for free. Over the summer, students worked remotely on projects about COVID-19, raising awareness about global citizenship, and combatting racism, among other topics. One of the center’s workshop facilitators and content creators, Bassam Fotouh, says the process is filled with trial and error—explaining “that’s how learning happens.”
“We’re proud to support our participants as they discover their interests and develop their boundless potential,” says STEM Hub Director Yasmine El Bendary.