By: Sayan Bhatia and Sohil Bhatia 

In 2018 Sayan and Sohil Bhatia co-founded Start STEM Early as a nonprofit organization. Over the past three years, they have been sharing their knowledge and experience with younger students by teaching the basics of mobile app development to students across the nation. Their mission is to increase interest in STEM among young students through curated programs. Early in the founding year of the organization, they taught groups of students on topics such as physics, chemistry, and earth science. They gradually expanded the curriculum to technology courses, and in 2020, during the peak of COVID19, Start STEM Early was able to accelerate its outreach through online programs and amplify its impact.

Realizing that programming was a heavily undervalued skill among young students, their organization created Intro to App Building, a completely virtual 6-week program offered for free by Start STEM Early. Within days of opening the registration, the course had garnered over 400 students from all over the USA. Through the organization’s Intro to App Building program, students embarked on a journey from having absolutely no computer science or programming knowledge, to building 5 full-fledged mobile apps. They received a large number of testimonials and appreciation for the sessions they taught. Currently, Start STEM Early has amassed over 3,300 students from all over the US. In order to further advocate for STEM education, their organization will continue to offer new and unique STEM programs to young students.

From the beginning, Start STEM Early has strived to make a consistent impact on students worldwide. Starting in 2018, the founders faced issues in gaining attraction and developing an audience. Mentoring and teaching 10-15 students, Start STEM Early started with just a whiteboard and a room of students. Over the years, the organization grew its scope. The early days of the organization’s journey included mentoring robotics teams and teaching chemistry to young students in their local community.

The introduction of the coronavirus in 2020, threw the world into a virtual setting. As events, assemblies, and education began to move into this unfamiliar remote scene, both Sayan and Sohil utilized this unique opportunity. By creating courses such as Intro to App Building and Intro to 3D Design, the non-profit gained hundreds of students’ interest. Although these sessions taught complex subjects such as building apps, the format was provided in an easy, and simple manner. Intro to App Building guides students by not only teaching them the basic concepts of computer science but also allowing them to build projects in a fun and creative way. Students from across the nation built apps such as Paint, Pong, and much, much more! At the end of the 4-week program, students were invited to build and showcase apps from their creativity. You can check out some of these impressive apps here.

Students around the world began to easily grasp ideas and concepts of computer science such as user interface, and control structures. With this interest in mind, Start STEM Early hosted their first computer science-based student competition. The competition was held over the course of a week and had over 100 students in attendance. The event featured two different categories for students to compete in. One of which was the Creative category, and the other was the Step-By-Step. Both categories allowed students to compete in a way that was comfortable for their skill level. While some students built projects from scratch, others had the option to learn to build a simple project and then add their own unique aspects.

Each student built apps and projects, with winners announced at the end of the week during the virtual award ceremony. The event featured guest speakers from XBOX and had over $200 in prizes.

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Sayan Bhatia is a junior at Redmond High School in Washington and is a developer, entrepreneur, and STEM advocate. After learning software development, he released his first app to the Apple App Store in 2018.

Sohil Bhatia is a sophomore at Redmond High School in Washington. His love and passion for technology began when he developed Water Matters, a mobile app, and an IoT device for tracking water usage.

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