Anike Sakariyawo brings STEM and STEAM programs to underserved kids.
When Anike Sakariyawo read articles about Mark Zuckerberg creating a messaging app at the age of 12 and that Jeff Bezos was called “the little engineer” and rebuilt a clock at 8 years old, a bell went off. “When you start learning STEM and STEAM at a younger age, you are more likely to go into a related field that piques your interest and be successful,” says the Sandy Springs resident.
An elementary and middle school teacher for 15 years at Title 1 schools in impoverished areas, Sakariyawo wanted to make a difference for the kids. With a love of science and a master’s degree in General Education with a concentration in General Science from Cambridge College of Healthcare and Technology in Sandy Springs, she looked for ways to bring STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) exposure, equipment and resources to her children. Her efforts began by incorporating science projects in her Miami classroom and blossomed into launching the S.E.E.K (Seeking Education Empowers Knowledge) Foundation, Inc. in 2012 while she continued to teach.
The nonprofit provides children from ages 3-18 with educational opportunities online and also implements the programs in schools in underserved neighborhoods and at other kid-focused nonprofits. Youngsters learn how to code and to make everything from body lotion to a skateboard to an A/C unit, gaining knowledge about different types of sciences along the way to see what they like. S.E.E.K also includes a health and fitness component and community involvement opportunities.
“We’re trying to teach kids life skills related to STEM and the arts so that they may at some point say, ‘I want to go to college to be an engineer,’ or ‘I want to be a front or backend coder and don’t need to go to college to make $60-$200,000 in that field,’” Sakariyawo says.
Many children who enter the S.E.E.K program become little entrepreneurs. Sakariyawo tells the story of one young lady who learned how to make lip gloss and sold it for $5 to other youths in her neighborhood. “When you show kids how to make something, they often take that skill set and create something different. I’m always impressed with that and with the parents, how they become more involved after they see their kids’ reaction to the program,” Sakariyawo says.
Frequent travels to Atlanta from Miami for several years led Sakariyawo to launch S.E.E.K in Georgia in 2017 and begin partnering locally with the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, one of Coretta Scott King’s programs. In 2018, Sakariyawo quit her teaching job to work on her growing nonprofit full-time. She moved to Atlanta in 2019. Within the coming year, S.E.E.K will expand to Texas, New York, D.C. and California.
“Two million jobs in 2020 went unfulfilled in STEM because of the lack of skills people have to work these jobs. If we can start with kids at an early age or even a later age, it opens up opportunities,” Sakariyawo says.
Online safety app
Once your child connects with the online world, it’s virtually impossible to keep up with what they’re looking at and with whom they’re chatting. Headquartered at Atlanta Tech Village, the Bark app helps keep kids safe online. Starting at $5 per month, it connects to more than 30 platforms to monitor text messages, emails and social activity for signs of harmful interactions and content. Parents receive automatic text and email alerts when it detects a potential risk and can also decide when their child has access to the internet and what sites they can visit.
Parents, take note now for next summer: Club SciKidz offers half and full-day STEM and STEAM camps for Pre-K through eighth grade. Past themes include American Doll STEAM Camp, QuadCopter Aerial Robotics, Adventures in Minecraft Game Design and more at locations such as the Atlanta International School in Garden Hills, St. James United Methodist Church in Brookhaven and Kingswood Church in Dunwoody.
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
Managing Editor and Wellness Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Blogger at Badass + Healthy.