*Science, technology, engineering and mathematics may not get the same kind of love from young people that sports, entertainment and social media receive, but if Emma Yang has anything to do with it, the tide will surely turn.
And with good reason. Yang is among 10 young innovators who are part of “The STEM10,” a new online docuseries aimed at highlighting and encouraging diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.). As the creator of Timeless, an app that helps Alzheimer’s patients use facial-recognition software to identify people in real time, Yang has blazed a noticeable trail in science and technology while motivating her peers to carve their own path to success.
To hear the 13-year-old trailblazer tell it, “The STEM10“ “has the potential to show many students that they can empower themselves with STEM to make an impact in their communities.”
A collaboration between the digital entertainment studio New Form and CA Technologies, one of the largest independent system software companies, “The STEM10” is meant to encourage young women and people of color to consider careers in S.T.E.M. fields. A press release for the 10-epidsode series cites the National Girls Collaborative Project, which identified the vast under-representation of women and minorities in the science and engineering workforce. According to the Project, women comprise roughly 29 percent of that workforce, with minorities following at 11 percent.
Yang isn’t the only innovator featured in “The STEM10.” The series, which recently debuted on the Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls website and various social platforms, highlights inventor Alexis Lewis, who holds numerous patents, including the wheeled travois which helps Somali refugees and actor-rapper Jaden Smith, who founded the Just Water group, which combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives with offering affordable products with impact. Each episode of “The STEM10” runs between five to 12 minutes.
“Representation matters and it’s important that young people of all backgrounds know that these kinds of opportunities are out there,” said New Form CEO Kathleen Grace voiced in a statement.
Alluding to the “under-representation in the media of girls in STEM, such as online and in popular culture” as a reason for the lack of diversity, Yang believes “the STEM10 project has the potential to help with this by showing the community that girls too can succeed in the S.T.E.M. field and make an impact through technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Potential aside, there are youth who encounter jeers and negativity for their love of science, math, engineering and technology. For those people, Yang has encouragement to share.
“Don’t let others tell you what not to do,” the Food for Thought co-founder said. “Even if you don’t see them at first, there will always be like-minded people who will support you in your passions.”
“When they see what young people like myself and other STEM10 participants can dream and achieve, they will want to pursue their own dreams and passions, no matter who they are,” Yang added while reminiscing over days where she encountered her own obstacles when creating her Timeless app. Assistance may be no problem to get now, but it was a different story in the beginning as Yang’s age and being taken seriously became roadblocks for those she reached out to.
“One of my greatest challenges was my age,” she said. “When I first started the project, I reached out to doctors and human analytics companies that I hope would be able to help me, but many of them did not respond,” she said. “Although it was difficult at first to find help. It took a long time to meet people who would take me seriously and believe in my project. I persisted with the project and eventually met many people that have supported me with the project both on the medical, design and technological fronts.”
Yang’s persistence proved winning in her in success with Timeless. While the app will occupy Yang’s time for the “foreseeable future,” look for her to make an impact in her next endeavor, which involves the detection of lung cancer.
“Timeless will be my primary focus for the foreseeable future as there are many potential features that could be added to the app that could augment the benefit of Timeless for patients, families and caregivers. I hope to get Timeless into as many hands of patients as possible,” Yang said. “I am also learning more about machine learning and hope that I can apply my knowledge to lung cancer detection, which I hope to focus on next.”
As “The STEM10” connects with more viewers, Yang is hopeful the series will inspire greatness that is already present in young people.
I hope we can inspire young people to believe in themselves and that they have their individual power to drive changes. I also hope that, through the lens of each of us in The STEM10, young people can see that anyone at any age can make a difference. They can too if they put their minds and hearts to the problems they wish to solve.”
Scroll below the see “The STEM10″ trailer.” To watch the online series, including episodes featuring Emma Yang, Jaden Smith and Alexis Lewis, click here.
Chris Richburg is a freelance writer based in Southern California. Contact him via [email protected]