The way Koshi Dhingra, an educator with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math learning, sees it, “Every kid is a STEM kid.”
But not all children enjoy the same access to STEM learning opportunities nor the same encouragement to pursue STEM careers.
Dhingra, a mother of three and the former director of the Science and Engineering Education Center at UT Dallas, founded TalkSTEM in 2015 to bring such education to underrepresented youths and get them excited about career possibilities.
TalkSTEM offers free curriculum on its website, talkstem.org, and entertainment and educational content on its YouTube channels, TalkSTEM and WalkSTEM.
These are useful tools for teachers and parents alike to help their children gain a better understanding of everything that goes into STEM, Dhingra said.
“Hey, STEM is really everywhere.” -Koshi Dhingra
In March 2017, TalkSTEM introduced WalkSTEM, free self- and docent-guided tours where children can explore problems in recognizable places such as the Dallas Arts District, NorthPark Center, and SMU.
Bringing in everyday stuff and art shows that, “Hey, STEM is really everywhere,” Dhingra said.
Dhingra said it was important that the tours weren’t just relaying information but instead leading participants to work through problems that people in STEM would encounter.
“We definitely want to highlight that STEM isn’t just about objects,” she said.
Another TalkSTEM program is the annual Pi Day festival on March 14. This year’s event at AT&T Performing Arts Center runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For the festival, TalkSTEM partners with companies and other organizations that create activities relating to what they do to show children opportunities in STEM.
For example, UT Southwestern Medical Center, one year, had had children figure out the dosage each ‘patient’ needed, considering their weight and other technical aspects, Dhingra said.
The aim is to offer authentic and unique activities that the whole family can find interesting while hopefully promoting students to start thinking differently about their futures.
She especially wants to see more girls and other underrepresented groups develop STEM and STEAM (the ‘a’ is for art) mindsets, no matter what career paths they choose to pursue.
“They don’t have to be rocket scientists, but being comfortable and confident was critical,” Dhingra said.