A look at the fastest growing STEM education program in the Caribbean for young students

Features > The Caribbean

By STEM Caribbean | Posted on May 26, 2019

In recent times it’s been predicted that coding will be one of the most critical skills in the future. Technology is growing continuously, and more processes are becoming automated, replacing human power. However, humans are the ones who write the programming codes which control the automated processes. The increasing demand for programming skills is evident as the world is adapting to using more technology such as computer programs, artificial intelligence, and advanced handheld devices like our smartphones. One non-profit in Guyana has recognized the need for programming skills and is taking action to ensure young people in Guyana are not left behind in the global technology race. 

Source: STEMGuyana

Founded in 2016, STEMGuyana has brought the thrill of programming and robotics to students in Guyana with the help of generous donors such as the Department of Youth in Guyana, local churches and organisations, and contributors in the diaspora. The contributions made by these organizations have allowed students to participate in STEM activities at almost no cost. With over 60 STEM clubs in 9 out of 10 regions in Guyana, arguably, STEMGuyana has the fastest growing STEM education program in the Caribbean for young students. In addition to programming, math, and science, members of the club can learn a range of skills necessary for the 21st century including problem-solving, critical thinking, team building, leadership, and communication skills. Students as young as five years old are joining in the fun working on weekly challenges and projects and preparing for the first National Robotics Challenge in Guyana. According to a Facebook post published by the organization last Thursday, the challenge has been postponed to July this year to allow more teams to participate. Older members of the club are trained as coaches to run their individual clubs successfully.  

Karen Abrams

When Karen Abrams co-founded STEMGuyana in 2016 with her two daughters Ima and Asha Christian and her son Caleb Christian, she already had 20+ years of investigating and experiencing technology education. Although she has an educational background in business and marketing, she has been working in several areas of technology for most of her cooperate career. In our conversation via email, she expressed that around the year 2000, she hired developers who had no college degrees and were being paid an annual salary of $70,000 – $90,000 USD. That’s approximately $104,000 – $134,000 USD in today’s dollars. This observation sparked Karen’s curiosity, and she decided to conduct her own investigation to share the knowledge obtained with her children and community. 

Source: STEMGuyana

“After leaving the corporate world, I studied and analyzed technology education and created a framework for my own children who are at Stanford U, Cornell U and New York U,” Karen stated via email. 

Subsequently, she founded a robotics and math academy in Decatur, Georgia, United States in 2009 which catered to over 150 students. Then she decided to bring the program to her home country, Guyana, which has achieved several accomplishments including the coaching of Guyana’s team which placed 10th out of around 160 countries at the First Global Challenge in 2017, an Olympics-style robotics competition for high school students around the world. This year’s competition will take place in Dubai in October. 

Source: STEMGuyana

Karen’s “goal is to bring programming, robotics and math enrichment to every community of youth in Guyana so that young people in Guyana will be able to live up to their potential,” according to stemguyana.com. The organisation continues to grow each year and pioneer technology-based activities and experiences for students across Guyana, including those in indigenous communities. 

“I don’t think that technology is going to ultimately be the answer for everything, but technology is going to be the answer for quite a lot,” Karen stated in a video interview with TechPrep by Facebook about 4 years ago (see video below). 

Congratulations to Karen Abrams and the team at STEMGuyana for bringing about a change and influencing Guyana’s future leaders. Visit stemguyana.com if you’d like to support, get involved with the clubs or learn more about the programs offered. 

Want to share an opportunity or story? Email us at info@stemcaribbean.com.

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