S.T.R.E.A.M. GLOBAL INNOVATIONS MAKES STEAM CAREERS ACCESSIBLE

Niamani Knight – Niamani Knight is the founder of S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations, an organization that connects students from underserved and low-income communities with opportunities for education and careers in science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and manufacturing. Photo provided by Aileen Bedeau
Niamani Knight – Niamani Knight is the founder of S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations, an organization that connects students from underserved and low-income communities with opportunities for education and careers in science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and manufacturing. Photo provided by Aileen Bedeau

 S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations makes STEAM careers accessible

By Tia Carol Jones

Whether it’s shooting off rockets or learning about airplanes, Niamani Knight sees S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations as an interactive educational theme park for kids.

Knight started the  S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations when she was a 13-year-old in eighth grade. A new entrepreneurship program for young people came to her community. She was already part of a different leadership and sports activities at her middle school. Her mother “volun-told” her to participate in the program, which was focused on helping middle school students create products to sell.
Knight loved science and math and didn’t want to create a physical product to sell as part of the program. Instead, she created S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations. S.T.R.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Manufacturing. Its mission is to connect the dots between education and careers in underserved and low-income communities.


The organization, which was founded in 2014, hosts interactive exhibitions, most of which are being done virtually because of the pandemic. Knight’s mother, Nikia Richards, serves as the co-founder and president of S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations.


As Knight got older there was more opportunities for her to participate in programs focused on science and math. She participated in conferences focused on STEM for girls and robotics classes. In middle school, Knight’s robotics teacher was a woman, which was not very common. That teacher was Knight’s first introduction into a STEM-related class and that representation was vital.  Knight’s connection with that teacher led to recommendations of other STEM programs, conferences and workshops she could participate in.


Research has shown that most young girls who are interested in science, math and technology lose interest around sixth grade at the age of 12. Because of that data, programs geared towards girls and keeping them interested in STEM have flourished in recent years.


In high school, Knight had parents who sought out opportunities for her to be engaged in STEM programs. That included finding a high school that had a four-year engineering program. She was still one of five girls in that program, but because of her entrepreneurship journey, she was able to connect with women or minority leaders in the STEM, STEAM, STREAM field. It has helped her maintain her passion.


Knight has also been able to become a voice in sharing opportunities for other young girls to follow the STEM, STEAM, STREAM path. She believes being able to connect the dots starts at the access level.


“With advocates, whether its parents, teachers or whether it’s a peer or community leader, it’s very important to make sure students know every single opportunity that is available for them, in terms of education and career possibilities,” she said.


In addition to the exhibitions, there was a conversation café series, with parents, students and educators talking about how to support the next generation entering into the industry.


The S.T.R.E.A.M. Global Innovations recently hosted a STREAM Black with Ian Michael Brock of Dream Hustle Code as the moderator. Brock is an activist and change agent who lives in Chicago.


For more information, visit www.streamglobal.org.

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