[Image Source:Engineering For Kids South Kansas City Facebook Page]
We all know there exists a great void in the public educational system when it comes to exposure to STEM courses. One educator named Dori Roberts decided to do something to change this system. Ms. Roberts taught high school engineering for 11 years and noticed there was a real void in quality STEM education at all levels of the public educational system. According to Forbes, Dori said,
"I started Engineering For Kids after noticing a real lack of math, science and engineering programs to enroll my own kids in." -Forbes Dori Roberts
She decided to start an afterschool program that participated in STEM-based competitions. The club grew quickly and when it reached 180 members and the kids in the program won several state championships, she decided to dedicate all her time to cultivating and expanding it. The global business, Engineering For Kids was born.
Dori began operating Engineering For Kids out of her Virginia home and she expanded it to local recreation centers. Demand quickly grew and she began franchising Engineering For Kids in 2012. Today, Engineering For Kids operates over 144 franchises in 32 states within the USA and in 21 countries. Sales have doubled from $5 million in 2014 to $10 million in 2015, with 25 new franchises planned for 2016. The EFK website states,
"Our nation is not graduating enough engineers. Our philosophy is to inspire kids at a young age to understand that engineering is a great career."
Here's Dori sharing her story of how and why she started EFK:
This story gets really personal because a few years ago I also began searching for science and engineering courses for my 5-year-old daughter. Like many parents, I want to expose my child to a wide variety of disciplines while her mind is still open enough to explore the possibilities. The other reason I wanted her to learn engineering fundamentals is because at home we do a lot of art and experimentation but not much engineering.
When I first began my search for engineering classes, I typed in every possible Google term and the only engineering classes offered in my area were, you guessed, ones from Engineering For Kids. I attended several of the sessions and they were exceptional. The teachers were both Honeywell engineers in real life, so they brought with them a ton of real knowledge from their careers. In the junior aerospace engineering class, the kids made a variety of rockets, parachutes, and other aircraft and launched them in the halls and over balconies. It was quite impressive and I'm a person who is not easily impressed.
The main thing I liked about these classes is the teachers don't waste too much time explaining things in theory. They quickly begin building something and the kids follow suit. Through their constant testing of the things they build, the kids come to understand how a particular thing works and why. The kids improve upon their original design and then test it to see how their adjustments affect its ability to work or move.
[Image Source: Engineering For Kids website]
My daughter loved the aerospace classes and begged to go to an Engineering For Kids summer camp. I just enrolled her today. Choosing this kind of summer camp is easy because there are currently no other options. If I want my child to learn STEM courses, Engineering For Kids is literally the only option that's available within 200 miles. I can see why the profits for Engineering For Kids are doubling every year.
[Image Source: Stafford Virginia website]
Article written by Leah Stephens. She is a writer, artist, and experimenter. She recently self-published her first book, Un-Crap Your Life. You can follow her on Twitter or Medium.
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Written by Leah Stephens