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22-year-old robotics educator is making education more accessible to girls and Indigenous youth

'We are youth and minority-run and focus on serving Indigenous kids like myself.' Danielle said.

22-year-old robotics educator is making education more accessible to girls and Indigenous youth
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @danielleboyer

Robotics inventor Danielle Boyer (@danielleboyer), 22, is from the Ojibwe tribe in upper Michigan. In 2019, she started the Steam Connection. Steam Connection is a robotics organization that provides "accessible high-quality, unique, and culturally competent technical educational resources with an emphasis on robotics. We are youth and minority-run and focus on serving Indigenous kids like myself," "If people want to make a change, I recommend that they start with what they know and begin within their own community,” Danielle says, reported In The Know. “When we create solutions for communities we don’t understand, they won’t work.”


Danielle's interest in Robotics started when she was 10. Educational programs were not accessible to her community when she was growing up. “There are a lot of inequities in education, but there are a lot of things that we can do about it to help our communities,” she said. She sees Robotics as a way to solve problems and robots can be created to solve any problem in the world. “Being able to hold something in your hand that you created, that talks to you and lights up and looks at you and drives towards you, I think that that is the coolest thing about robotics — being able to hold that idea, through engineering, in your hand,” Danielle said.


The first robot she created was called Every Kid Gets a Robot (EKGR), a remote-controlled car made of recycled plastics. Danielle has distributed 8,000 of these robots via Stream Connection to help children. “Every Kid Gets a Robot came from the overall goal and mission to provide accessible, technical education to every, overall BIPOC youths, and more specifically Indigenous youths,” she said.


SkoBots is Danielle's recent robot. In this, she received help from her mentors. It is an Indigenous language-learning robot helping in storing Indigenous languages and teaching them to kids. It is a crucial step when Indigenous languages are at risk. “It makes it very difficult for us to get into tech careers or advocate for ourselves within tech, which is now integrated into everything in our lives,” she says. “And so I think accessible robotics provides an opportunity to fill that gap for Indigenous youths so that our voices can be heard.”


Another invention from Danielle is, BioBotz, "Our founder, Danielle Boyer, knew that she could create something better, and EKGAR: BioBotz was born. She designed a biodegradable and plant-based cardboard-like paste that hardens in molds and replaces the plastic in the robots altogether. The goal is for our students to be able to manufacture the robots themselves in a classroom with a mold instead of a 3D printer using regional seedlings. We are also developing a method to extrude and harden the paste for the maker community."


Danielle's website also reads, "The current lack of diversity in STEM, through race and gender, is a larger disparity than many realize. Our work continues to bring awareness to these gaps and to help close them, creating a greatly more diverse community in STEM." Danielle's work is an important step in assisting girls and Indigenous communities to get their education. 

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