27 Great Sources for STEM and Entrepreneurship Education
With school starting back, and education on our minds, I thought it might be a good time to provide a list of resources that can help parents and students pursue STEM and entrepreneurial endeavors. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Find one near you and engage in the programs or volunteer to help.
- Y.E.S – The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, an affiliate of Arkansas Capital, created the Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.) for Arkansas business plan competition in 2005 to introduce young Arkansans in grades 5-8 to the potential and opportunities of entrepreneurship.
- EAST – The EAST program, a project based learning program that teaches kids coding, video production, how to use design and GPS mapping software, and develop websites, is already in 200+ schools around the state.
- Arkansas Innovation Hub – Nonprofit organization with a maker space (lots of cool 3D printers, microprocessors, etc . . .) dedicated to talent and enterprise development in an environment where Arkansas entrepreneurs and innovators find support for success.
- Art Connection – A student art program located inside the Arkansas Innovation Hub. Students learn painting, sculpting, digital design, and much more.
- Noble Impact– An education initiative that exposes students to relevant experiences and tools that enable them to navigate a world defined by uncertainty with an entrepreneurial skill set and a public service mindset.
- STEM Coalition – A statewide partnership of leaders from the corporate, education, government and community sectors which plans, encourages, coordinates and advocates policies, strategies, and programs supportive of excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning in order to expand the economy of Arkansas and produce higher paying jobs. There are STEM Centers located around the state.
- 100 Girls of Code – The mission of 100 Girls of Code is to achieve gender parity in STEM fields by introducing more young women to code and computer engineering at a young age. We seek to inspire more girls to pursue a future in STEM. There is also Northwest Arkansas Chapter.
- First Robotics – The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
- Best Robotics – In these project-based STEM program students learn to analyze and solve problems utilizing the Engineering Design Process, which helps them develop technological literacy skills. Programs in Jonesboro, Harrison, Little Rock and Ft. Smith.
- Arts and Science and Kids Museums– Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas – Pine Bluff, Museum of Discovery – Little Rock, Mid-America Science Museum – Hot Springs, and the Amazeum – Bentonville
- Arkansas Out-of-School Network – A network of after school programs around the state. A few notables include:
- 4-H State Robotics team
- Adventure Clubs of Bentonville, AR
- Bella Vista Boys and Girls Club – strong STEM focus with NASA curriculum
- O. Kelly Middle School (21st CCLC after school program) – robotics focus
- The Camp Pfiefer program – environmental STEM related projects
- The Saline County Boys and Girls Club – Benton – entrepreneurship focus, partners with 4-H
- Horatio Elementary School – 21st CCLC – focus on Coding
- The Audubon Center, Little Rock – focus on environmental stewardship
Joshua used online resources extensively to teach himself how to code, develop websites and smartphone apps, build printed circuit board and electronic products, and produce video. If you confine your learning to the formal classroom, you are missing out on valuable, self-paced education. In addition to this list of Arkansas area programs, check out this list of online sources for subject matter education and skills development from our friends at Entrepreneur:
- HubSpot Academy – The free certification program offers courses on inbound marketing, including website optimization, landing pages and lead nurturing. These skills are a must for business owners as they try to grow their business and online presence.
- Moz – If you want to learn search-engine optimization to make sure your website is as visible as possible, check out this treasure trove of resources from SEO leader, Moz. Besides having the free Moz Academy, there are also webinars (live and recorded), and beginner’s guides to SEO, social media and link building.
- LearnVest – The most successful entrepreneurs know how to manage their money both on a business and personal side. In addition to having extremely affordable finance classes, LearnVest also offers some of its classes for free, such as “Building Better Money Habits” and “How to Budget.”
- Niche consultant courses – The Internet has made for a coaching boom, which is extremely helpful to entrepreneurs who want to learn how to start or better a business in a specific niche. Some great coaches and organizations that routinely have free courses and e-books on building a business include Natalie MacNeil and MyOwnBusiness. Try searching “niche keyword” + “business course” to find one most applicable to you.
- edX – This free site currently has over 300 courses on a variety of topics, including “Financial Analysis and Decision Making” and “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?” These courses not only cover business in general, but can also you help learn more skills that are applicable to your industry, such as big data or environmental conservation.
- Khan Academy – This free learning resource was created to give everyone access to education in math, science, art, technology and more. There are over 100,000 interactive exercises to put your education to practical use. Even though many of the courses are geared toward high school students, there are several courses that would be good for anyone to have a refresher on, such as taxes and accounting.
- MIT Open Courseware – These are actual courses taught at MIT and offered for free on the site for viewing and reading at your discretion. The school put together an entrepreneurship page that lists available courses that are beneficial to new business owners. Courses include “Early State Capital” and “The Software Business.”
- Kutztown University of Pennsylvania – This university has almost 100 free on-demand college courses that are extremely applicable to entrepreneurs, including ones that cover business planning, operations and management and small-business tax.
- Coursera – Much like MIT’s Open Courseware, this site has 114 educational partners that provide free courses to almost 10 million users. One benefit to Coursera is that there are very specific courses that fit perfectly into particular niches, such as “Data Management for Clinical Research” from Vanderbilt University and “Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace” from the University of Maryland. Its wide network of partners allows for a greater selection.
- OpenCulture – This site isn’t an educational platform on its own, but rather collects and shares free resources from around the web. Its list of 150 free online business courses is a great resource because it offers classes from iTunes U and other lessons on video and audio. The site also has lists of free audiobooks, certificate courses and other online courses.
- YouTube – It’s probably unsurprising to most users that YouTube is one of the world’s largest search engines, as there are literally videos on just about anything you can imagine. From TED talks to recorded presentations on building a business, it’s a great free resource on just about any topic.
- Alison – This platform offers free online courses from some of the most well-known names on the internet today, including Google, Microsoft, and Macmillan. With over 4 million users and over 600 courses already, it covers topics such as economic literacy, personal development and business/enterprise skills.
- Saylor – The Saylor Foundation offers tuition-free courses and also works with accredited colleges and universities to offer affordable credentials. Its course offerings are similar to what you’d see when working toward a bachelor’s degree.
- Podcasts – Even though it’s not an official course, podcasts are an amazing (and easily digestible) way to become a better entrepreneur. Podcasts can be listened to via streaming on your computer (if that certain podcast offers it) or via iTunes for iOS and apps such as Podcast Republic for Android. Podcasts such as Entrepreneur of Fire already garner thousands of listeners every episode and are a great way to learn the most up-to-date information and strategies possible. Another good list of entrepreneur podcasts include Think Entrepreneurship’s.
- Instructables – This online site has step-by-step projects and videos shared by folks making everything from lamp shades to robots. Joshua has used this resource extensively for inspiration to create his own projects.
THE TAKEAWAY – While the classroom is a tried and true traditional source of learning, there is so much more to learning outside of textbooks and lectures. STEM and Entrepreneurship are best learned by DOING. Use these online resources, join a program, or get your own team together and go BUILD SOMETHING. Outside the classroom, even if you happen to fail, you learn. Keep trying.