A Cupertino, California-based Indian American student-run organization is inspiring young minds across the globe to the powerful impact of STEM-based studies.
We Love STEM, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Ishani Das, the organization’s president, and Anusha Singhai, its vice president, provides free STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to middle schoolers internationally, and seeks to inspire and foster a love of STEM, particularly in under-resourced communities.
Das and Singhai, currently juniors in high school, first met in the winter of 2017, in seventh-grade science class, and immediately became best friends.
“In middle school, I discovered a love for STEM through my first hands-on Arduino project, a wearable device created to aid people with visual impairment and offer real-time assistance,” Das told India-West. “It was very motivating to win several awards for this product in the 2019 Synopsys Science Championship,” she said, adding that through this project, she discovered she really enjoyed building hands-on tools and coding them to perform whatever she wanted.
Das said this is what inspired her to offer a learning opportunity to any student who may find this application of STEM skills fun, and that may even spark a life-long interest.
“The summer after I graduated 8th grade, I held an Arduino workshop for a few 5th graders I knew. This later turned into teaching a year-round Arduino class for middle schoolers at the Cupertino Library in the 2019-20 school year with my friend, Anusha Singhai,” Das added.
The two founders attended a Girls Who Code class together, where they used to meet every week in the very library that they began teaching We Love STEM classes in.
We Love STEM was born in the summer of 2019 with only three students in Das’ living room. The organization officially took off in fall 2019 when they taught their first course, Arduino, in the 2019-20 school year at their local library, the Cupertino Library.
“Since then, our organization has flourished beyond our wildest dreams and seeing our tangible impact on our community has been inspiring, leading us to continue branching out internationally,” Das said. “In the future, we hope to be able to continue spreading our mission and to help as many students as possible,” she added.
The program offers summer camps, year-round classes and guest speaker events. It also raises money through fundraisers to help social organizations.
As recently as May, We Love STEM raised over $700 for oxygen charities in India to fight the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In the future, the duo hopes to reach more students who are under-resourced and may not be offered the same STEM learning opportunities at their local schools and afterschool programs, especially internationally.
“We want WLS to be a place where they can learn for fun and develop a genuine interest for subjects through free education,” Das, who hopes to study computer science and biology at CalTech or Columbia when she graduates high school, said. “We will also begin a personalized mentoring program and offer STEM subject area tutoring services for students that feel challenged in traditional middle/high school learning environments, or for those who do not have enough access to resources.”
In addition to Das and Singhai, We Love STEM has a volunteer team of Indian and Asian American young women from all over the U.S. Since its founding in 2019, the organization has grown from a simple summer Arduino workshop with three students in a living room into an international organization with more than 190 students, and seven chapters all over the world, the organization notes.
“I really love it. It's a fun learning experience, which in distance learning can be hard to find sometimes. I think that you get to do something you really love, and I love coding and I'm having a great time with this,” Vivaan Garg, a recent We Love STEM student, said.
More information about the organization can be found by visiting https://www.welovestem.org/.
“All high school students passionate about STEM are welcome to join our team and contribute as a chapter director to teach whatever they feel most confident in,” Das said. “Adults can help us recruit middle school students or present as guest speakers. Needless to say, all middle schoolers are welcome to sign up for our program,” she said.