What is The STEAM Squad? It's a brand new collection of some of the top science, tech, engineering, art & math teens in the world! They met online through twitter & instagram and created a group to cheer each other on and uplift & encourage other kids to embrace STEAM. We could NOT love this idea more...and we reached out to the squad with questions. Their answers blew us away.
Ê: If middle school girls who love STEAM subjects could put ONE piece of advice up in their lockers - to look at & inspire them every day - what do you think it should be?
JS: My advice to girls that want to be in STEAM is “Even if you’re the first, be proud that you are a leader”. What it means is even if you’re the only girl in a program, class, or job, you are a leader because you are the first and you are showing that girls can do it and girls are interested.
AW: Kids are not the “future”, we are here now. We are not going to change the world “someday”, we already are.
TR: Wow! Lots of inspiring words could be said; my favorite are: Be YOU! You’re worth IT. Practice makes progress not perfect. “Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.” - that’s from my idol Dr Mae Jemison, first African American woman astronaut in space.
IH: I have three inspiring phrases: 1. When everything seems to go against you, remember that the plane takes off against the wind 2. If you can dream it, you can reach it, you can do it! 3. Whatever your decision is, make sure it makes you happy. JR:Don’t give up, believe in yourself, and failure is the key to success.
Ê: What area within STEAM do you think is going to change the world the most in the next 5 years (Artificial Intelligence? Robotics? Engineering? Artistic Design?) AND what female STEAM role models do you think will lead the way? JS: The area of STEAM that is going to help the world the most in the next 5 years is STEAM in its entirety. All the areas are connected. Each letter makes the other letters better when they are used together. So, using all areas will make the world the best we can make it. The female STEAM leaders are going to be females that are determined and work hard. They may have to take risks, they may have some trouble, they may have people trying to stop them, but they will still move forward because they have passion.
AW: In the future, think that STEAM is going to affect the field of medicine dramatically. I personally am a little uncomfortable around medical equipment, and I strongly believe that people can research further into the fact that hospitals make kids like me anxious and come up with new ideas to lessen the issue. I also think that STEAM can help further develop genetic testing, as well as identifying and treating new forms of disease, or even discovering new medications.
TR: I feel it’s going to be a combination of all these. But probably artificial intelligence and robotics which are already making significant strides. STEAM role models who will lead the way, well I’m hoping one will be Timnit Gebru. I follow her and feel she will definitely be leading the way. Also love her passion to actively work to boost diversity and inclusion in the field of AI. When she noticed she was the only Black woman at a major AI conference, she co-founded the social community Black In AI to drive connection and participation in AI research. So, my bet is her and many others like her.
IH: I think that virtual reality will allow us to perform all kinds of simulations that will help us develop skills and technical dexterity as if we were in a real situation but without any risk if a problem occurs, this has all kinds of applications such as military missions, rescue missions, training for astronauts, simulators for medical training such as surgeries, treatment of phobias, etc. The way of women in STEAM will be marked more and more by women who dare to do things that were mostly done only by men, I see that more and more girls are more empowered of our future, leading, creating our own projects, fighting for our dreams and helping other people.
JR: I think once experts from all the different elements of STEAM can work together, we will make amazing changes. My STEAM role models have to be all of my STEAM Squad because we are all doing fun and amazing things to change the world. Just imagine what we will do in the future!
Ê: Mentorship is important in any area where you want to learn from true experts, and we don't think anyone is too young to be a mentor. Who are some of your current mentors and do you see yourselves as mentors to upcoming STEAM students (because we totally do)?
JS: I have many mentors, who are my parents, Jonathan McDowell, James Guillochon, Tamara Robertson, Tracy Fanara, Ariel Ekblaw, Devora Najjar, Avery Normandin, and Tal Achituv. They always try to help me if they can when I have a question. I try to be mentors to other girls in STEAM, it’s one of the main things that I try to do. I have been a mentor, such as when I was a mentor for girls in a Girls Who Code program at my local Boys and Girls Club. I find it important for girls in STEAM to be able to have someone they can ask questions to.
AW: I have a ton of mentors, male and female. Too many to name. They are people who can help me out when I ask or people who inspire me who I call my friends. I see myself as an advocate more than a mentor, and I think for me an advocate shows what they are doing in order to inspire others to do the same. I think advocates can be encouragers to others younger as well. I guess mentors are encouragers too, so maybe I am a bit of a mentor sometimes.
TR: I may differ from my STEAM family in my response but finding a mentor is very important. Ava Duvernay said, “A true mentor gives love, care, concern, guidance, and information and it’s priceless.” I can say that my mentor gives me all of this and more. I’m truly blessed to have someone like him.
I remember my first encounter with my mentor Mr Darnell Smith. I literally was so impressed with his demeanor that I walked over to him at 9 and started speaking to him. By the time the conversation was over, he gave me his card and told me to call him if I ever needed anything. Well I didn’t call him right away I wanted to prove myself, so I did work.
And I think in a nutshell if you take care of your character and do the real work your reputation will take care of itself. People will ask to be your mentor. I’ve been lucky over the last few years to have many ask and I’m so grateful for it. I’m still trying to do the work to bring more to the table or create own doors to walk through them and of course to help others be what they can see; whether through a book drive or even a movie screening! 😉
Also, my mentor has known me now for half my life. Lol! And while he has a degree in electrical engineering his wisdom, knowledge and his actions is what makes me admire and aspire to be like him. Today, I can say he’s not only my mentor he’s my coach, sponsor and now family. He takes the time to invest in me to help me be a better and kind person to others first. Which is why I’m so passionate about the advocacy piece of my work.
I have to be honest I don’t see myself as a mentor right now. What I do see is that I still have more work to do in field of inclusion when it comes to STEAM. I hope those younger and older if they see anything in me it’s that they see through my advocacy and respect for this field that I’m foremost a good person, an agent of change and girl who definitely isn’t going anywhere and bringing more to the table we call STEAM!!
IH: At the moment I do not have a mentor in addition to my family and my group of friends of The STEAM Squad. Thanks to being part of this wonderful group, I am motivated every day to be the best version of me, to believe that dreams can be possible if you fight for them. When one of the girls in the group gets a new achievement, we all are happy and supportive. We all definitely have the ability to mentor other girls. Even though I currently do not have a mentor, I am completely open to any help, in general I like to learn new things.
JR: Right now, I have two mentors. My mom is one because she always tells me to keep working for my goals and to never give up. My design partner, Sam Hobish, is a mentor because he is really nice and helpful. It’s really fun to share ideas with him and to brainstorm. I think I am already mentoring kids, especially ones who attend design events from my nonprofit.
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