Getting into the S.T.R.E.A.M. of Things!
Cunning, smart, and so accomplished at only 16 years of age. Most teens are just worried about getting through high school let alone starting their own non-profit. As the founder of S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Manufacturing) Kids Expo™, Niamani Knight is reaching for the stars. Her organization holds an exposé to introduce students to explore “S.T.R.E.A.M. exhibits from industry experts, schools, and organizations.”
At the age of 13, Knight enjoyed math and sciences. She immersed herself in it but saw that not all of her peers were as interested in STEM as she was. In fact, many were afraid of it. She wanted to create something that included all students with every learning style and ability. With the help of her mother Nikia Richards, she began looking for ways to bridge that gap. Richards stated that her role in this, “was to be the parent, to see if her idea was something she actually wanted to do or if it just a phase she was going through.” After participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (students were to create a business, most created products to sell but she was a little different and created a platform for students, companies, and organizations to display the unique things they were doing whether that be in the classroom or business) she came up with big dreams and from there started S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo™. The very first one was held in the Antelope Valley at the Rancho Vista Golf Club. Many businesses, schools, and other organizations came out to support this cause. Students that attended participated in hands-on activities that focused on the different aspects of S.T.R.E.A.M. Because of an overwhelming statistic that “40 percent of 4th Graders in the U.S. alone are reading at an average to below average reading level” she would add the “R” to the STEM. To Knight, this meant that “students were matriculating to grades they were not prepared for.” She also changed the “M” because of the thousands of jobs opening in the manufacturing industry.
Over the next three years, Knight would partner with school districts, private and charter schools all over the country to put on this event. S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo™ has exposed over 4,000 young minds to various industries with one goal in mind: to challenge kids today to own possibilities tomorrow. The expo connects the dots between today’s education and career options in the future. Students who attend get a firsthand look at different employers giving them the opportunity to ask questions and get advice that is not readily available in school. Recently, Knight traveled to Seattle to be the keynote speaker for Amazon’s Hour of Code Event. There she spoke with students about getting more involved in coding with a focus on girls; because there is a huge divide between women in this particular career field. Knight, along with her mom, hosts Parents’ Café during the expos as well. In these, they discuss several topics concerning the development and enriching the lives of students.
Next year, Knight will be going into her senior year and is working to form a student ambassador program so that S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo™ continues on after she is off to college. Her plan is to keep the Expo, “for Kids, by kids.” We will see such great things from Niamani Knight. In the words of W.E.B. DuBois, “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.”
For more information on how you or your business can get involved with S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo please visit the website https://www.streamkidexporocks.org
photo by Erin graves
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