Building the Future
A Message from our Founder
My name is Danielle Boyer (Ojibwe - Sault Tribe) and I'm a girl who makes robots and gives them all away! I created The STEAM Connection when I was 18-years-old and tired of how inaccessible technical education was and still is. Growing up, I firsthand saw how a lack of technical educational opportunities set youths back. Sadly, it is an all too common experience for many youths. I saw the power that robots had to change our world for the better, but also saw how expensive and inaccessible they were. I want all youths to have access to quality technical educational resources. Education in technology enables economic development, connectivity, and innovation. It is more than that, though, it is making sure that every youth has an equal opportunity to engage in our modern and tech-driven world.
When I joined a robotics team in high school, I did not fit in. I felt like I had to fight for respect that I'd never receive as a girl who loves robots. I created my organization because every child deserves to have a safe place to learn and grow and because STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education should be accessible to all youths.
Here at The STEAM Connection, we tackle these issues by developing, manufacturing, and distributing 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 youths like myself. Our goal is to reduce inequities that prevent many minorities and girls from pursuing science and technology careers and to enable every young mind to be empowered through STEM to create the change that they want to see in our world.
Why is our work vital? 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.
Together we can create the future that we want to see. Join us on our journey.
Miigwech (thank you) and with love,
Founder, The STEAM Connection
Technical education holds significant importance for Indigenous communities as it plays a crucial role in promoting self-determination, fostering opportunities in tech careers, and empowering individuals to find their voice. Unfortunately, Indigenous peoples face systemic barriers that limit our access to technological resources, making the need for technical education even more critical. Additionally, students also often feel uncomfortable pursuing STEM careers due to various reasons, including historical and ongoing marginalization, lack of representation, cultural barriers, and limited resources. These factors can contribute to a sense of exclusion and create a hostile environment for Indigenous individuals in STEM fields.
An overview of the disconnect:
Access to Computers: Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by the digital divide. In rural Native communities, only 9% of households have personal computers, and even fewer have Internet access (National Congress of American Indians). Computer access for most Natives is outside the home.
Internet Access: 18% of tribal reservation residents have no internet access at home, wireless or land-based (American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University).
Indigenous peoples make up only 0.4% of the engineering workforce (Northern Arizona University).
The STEM workforce is 72% male (Society of Women Engineers).
Only 33% of workers in STEM careers are non-white (Pew Research Center).
Dropout Rates: Indigenous students have the highest dropout rate in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Education's Indian Nations at Risk Task Force.
STEM Divide: “STEM is not available to all learners” – The White House.
Given these challenges, technical education becomes a vital tool for empowering Indigenous communities. By providing access to culturally responsive technology, training, and resources, it helps bridge the digital divide and equips individuals with the skills needed to thrive now. Technical education also opens doors to career opportunities in the tech sector, where Indigenous voices and perspectives are often underrepresented. The lack of diverse perspectives hampers the progress of scientific research, limits innovation, and undermines efforts to address the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities. It is essential to create inclusive and supportive environments in STEM education and workplaces, recognizing and valuing the contributions of Indigenous peoples. Moreover, technical education fosters self-determination by allowing Indigenous communities to assert control over our own technological development. It enables us to address specific needs and challenges we face, promoting community resilience and self-sufficiency.
In summary, technical education plays a pivotal role in empowering Indigenous communities by addressing disparities in access to technology, providing opportunities for career growth, and promoting self-determination. By equipping Indigenous individuals with the necessary skills and resources, we can help bridge the digital divide, amplify our voices, and foster greater inclusion in the ever-evolving world of technology.