Kids are natural scientists. Kids love to ask questions, look under rocks, take things apart and (sometimes) try to put them back together again. Unfortunately, starting from a young age, many kids, in particular girls and minorities, start to shy away from science, technology, engineering, and math—or STEM—subjects.
To address this issue, Jean Fan (Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD '13) founded cuSTEMized, a non-profit organization that informs and inspires even very young kids in STEM by providing personalized STEM-themed picture storybooks. cuSTEMized storybooks highlight different STEM careers and how they impact the world. But what makes cuSTEMized storybooks special is that your child is the main character. Working with Kamil Slowikowski (Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD '12) and others from the Harvard community, Fan and the team applied their computational skills to create cuSTEMized.org, where parents can personalize these storybooks to feature their kids using their name and avatar. You can download electronic books for free on-demand or donate to cover the costs for printed books. Over 4000 parents have already made personalized stories for their kids using cuSTEMized. In this manner, cuSTEMized creates a truly personalized message to help foster a positive STEM identity in kids starting from a young age.
Fan and the team are currently working on a new personalized storybook and interactive educational app. To support cuSTEMized and their latest creation, please check out their Kickstarter campaign.