‘Why STEM is Dope’ is special 150th anniversary celebration for Purdue Polytechnic High School students
The STEM-focused high school students at Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis “embraced their inner nerd” when they heard from 24-year-old Justin Shaifer about “Why STEM is Dope.”
The 260 students heard from “Mr. Fascinate” on May 10 at the Indianapolis Arts Garden at Circle Center. This adventurous talk informed students about real-life experiences of modern STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professionals and the prospect of STEM careers. Students who attend this charter school, which opened in 2017, do so because they are curious about the world around them, how things work and how to make them work.
Shaifer’s bio begins with “It all started on the south side of Chicago …” and about growing up in a single-parent home. He had little awareness of a potential STEM career, until he attended Hampton University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marine and environmental science with the highest departmental grade point average. He also received scholarships from NASA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that covered 100% of his tuition and room and board.
He is a doctoral student at Columbia University and the founder and executive director of Fascinate Inc., an organization created to excite underrepresented students about STEM. He performs teacher training and develops culturally responsive STEM curriculum for institutions in New York City. He is known for his work on the Magic Cool Bus Project. Past partners of his organization include Google, Microsoft, MIT Media Lab and Children’s Aid.