TL;DR version – click the link below and make a donation to the Technology Cooperative (a non-profit helping children and adults with several STEM focused programs). Any amount – $25 would be great, $50 amazing, $100 and you are an Awesome human being I would gladly send to represent us all when the aliens make contact.
A year ago I along with other like minded individuals “founded” the Technology Cooperative (TechCo). I put founded in quotes because what really happened is we wrote some big personal checks to secure space. We did this because we believe exposing youth to technology is critical to our future, and it is not happening enough. If we help a few adults along the way find new careers in technology, even better.
Our first year has been successful by almost every measure. The TechCo has become home for several groups including game programming, wordpress meetups, youth leadership, robotic exploration, and a makerspace. We are currently planning a “Summer of Tech” program made up of independent half-day workshops targeting kids off from school.
Personally, I have been leading the game programming group Knoxna (soon to become Knoxville Game Design). Last summer I held a 3 part workshop on creating Space Invaders from scratch in C# and XNA. The group has attracted game designers of all ages and is a excellent way for children to apply the physics and math concepts learned in school.
I’ve also had great fun working with kids in the JunkBotz program. This simple idea has become one of the most popular – we take donated old printers and electronics with motors (laptops aren’t very interesting inside) and let the children take them apart. It’s not destruction, they have to figure out how to properly disassemble the device. Motors, gears, switches and more are salvaged to be built into something else later. So fundamental to learning is seeing how something it works; the fun involved is just a side benefit.
We have been covered in the local paper, and have received our 501-c-3 status (making us non-profit and tax deductible). We find more and more people every week willing to get involved, lead a group, and help out. The one thing we have not had success with is funding.
Technology Cooperative has to date been funded by the personal checking accounts of the founders. We have been applying for sponsorship and STEM grants as quickly as we can, but are finding that many of these programs require the organization to exist for 3-5 years before becoming eligible, and the process slow. We need help to make it through the time between now and the time we become eligible.
Any donation you can make will help. We are in that phase Seth would call “A Dip”. With your help we can reach the other side, and together create the scientists and engineers of tomorrow!