This March, STEM Minds is celebrating its 5th birthday! Over the last 5 amazing years, we sure have a lot to be proud of.
We set out with a simple goal of empowering youth through STEM education. For our founder and CEO, Anu Bidani, leaving a successful career in banking to launch our little start-up was a huge leap of faith. But, 5 years later, looking back on all the successes we’ve had toward achieving that goal of empowerment, it is clear that the decision was 100% worth it.
Of course, over the span of 5 years there have been too many amazing opportunities and accomplishments to name in just one post, but here are a few highlights:
Upsizing Our Facility
When STEM Minds first opened, we were located in a small location in Newmarket and were only running a few camps to start with. After opening, the response from the community was so excellent that we very quickly outgrew our space and knew it was time for our tiny business to get itself a big upgrade, and we couldn’t be happier! (as an aside: we are very proud to say that we still have some campers that have been with us since those early days. Thanks for your support!)
Our new Earl Stewart location in Aurora continues to be our STEM Headquarters to this day. Once we had upsized, we were able to outfit our new location with custom furniture designed to optimize student collaboration as well as all of the best STEM technology out there to make the most epic learning centre and Makerspace in the area.
The increased square footage was definitely put to good use as we added several 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills, and other equipment along with an enormous fleet of computers and tablets ready to be deployed for workshops, weekly lunch and after school programs, or for use by students in our facility.
Our headquarters is something we are very proud of and are continuing to upgrade as our programs evolve (such as the edition of our eSports area!). If you have ever been to our facility, you know it is custom-built for collaboration and creativity. If you haven’t had the chance to visit, take a look for yourself!
B Corp Certified
B Corps are businesses that have demonstrated the highest level of social and environmental impact and are businesses that balance profit and purpose. Since our opening 5 years ago, we have always prioritized impact over profits, so being B Corp certified it is a way to demonstrate to the community that STEM Minds does not just talk the talk, but we also walk the walk when we say we want to make a big social impact, and that we are a business with a conscience.
As previously mentioned, when our business began to grow and more people heard about us, we outgrew our space. Likewise, as the years went on and our programs continued to grow in popularity, we knew that we needed to find a way to bring the best in STEM education to students even beyond those we could reach through our in-person programs.
We needed to find a way to be able to reach many more students beyond those in our own community with the power of holistic STEM education, and if we wanted to do that we would need to transform our business to create a powerful online offering.
So, in 2018, we began the ongoing journey of creating STEAM Hub. This involved developing over 30 online courses as well as STEMulators (elearning games) to enhance student learning.
At first, it was difficult to gain consistent interest in online course offerings. However, when our friend COVID-19 rocked the world in early 2020, that very quickly changed. All of the hard work we had put into developing online learning through STEAM Hub ended up being instrumental to the way we pivoted our business to adapt to the current state of the world.
Pivoting During a Pandemic
As we said, the work we had invested in developing amazing online courses proved to be completely worth it once we realized that the “new normal” might be here to stay for a little longer than 2 weeks! When everything was shut down, we were able to move our programs to be completely virtual with great success. Parents knew they needed a way to keep their kids engaged and keep their child’s learning going at home during school distance learning, and STEAM Hub and our live virtual classes were able to meet that need.
At this time, both our students and our STEM instructors were new to this whole video conferencing version of learning that everyone needed to adapt to. But very quickly after launching our live STEM classes our instructors were coming to each staff meeting with new insights to keep making our virtual classes better, success stories of students learning amazing new things, and even making some virtual friends in their class.
Now, almost a year later, the importance of high-quality online learning has been fully recognized and we are continuing to expand our online offerings to help even more students and teachers be fearless learners.
We sure have come a long way from those small summer camps in 2016. As of now, we have reached over 40,000 students with our programs!
While we are talking numbers… we have also run over 750 workshops, reached over 3,800 teachers, offered 30+ online courses on STEAM Hub (and counting!) and have worked with countless community partners.
The past 5 years have been filled with a lot of growth as well as some big accomplishments and opportunities. So what’s next for us in the next 5 years and beyond? In the next 5 years, we will continue to expand our reach to a global audience and continue to expand our course offerings to offer even more advanced STEM content like Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Blockchain, all while keeping up with all of the new tools making their way into the market for some of our existing. Keep an eye out this year for more exciting partnerships, new virtual events, and more as we continue to expand and grow with all of your support!
Thank you to all of our amazing students and their families as well as our incredibly dedicated staff for being a part of this ongoing journey of #fearlesslearning. We look forward to what the future holds for us in the next 5 years and beyond!