• TOYZSTEAM enhanced diverse students’ applications at Facebook and Microsoft. 
  • Students used projects to get into highly selective education programs
  • Students learned coding and game design
  • Students learned 3D modeling 
  • Students learned how to develop on Virtual Reality
  • Students learned music creation, songwriting, and entrepreneurship. 
  • Students visited the Education Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon with their parents.

As an example of one student’s story, Timothy is an African-American student who has been in our program since he was 10 years old. He came with a group of parents and students to CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center.  Because of the Toyz Electronics program, he has a passion for STEM and he will take Calculus in High School before he graduates. He enrolled at Carnegie Mellon this Fall.

With this anecdotal evidence, we sought to explore further evidence if such results can be proven on a large scale. 

We developed a solution TOYZSTEAM from these findings. Our creator’s platform is built around a video game that integrates a learning management system, virtual creativity tools, and an e-commerce marketplace. Our findings showed a need for a racially relevant curriculum that is accessible to diverse and disadvantaged students via a virtual digital solution that can be effective by enabling STEM learning that leverages Art, culture, and entrepreneurship in its delivery. We incorporated the need for representation for students to continue to engage in STEM learning to create a way to inspire students. We considered values beyond themselves and the desire for diversity and changing hearts and minds, and introduction to jobs that don’t exist yet such as careers in the autonomous vehicle industry in developing the videogame component of the platform.  We considered the need for self-motivated candidates and the ability to showcase projects, and providing diverse higher ED like HBCUs the ability to offer STEAM pathways in developing a project-based learning management system.  We considered the economic challenges, the need for a platform to showcase projects for employment, and higher learning prospects in STEM. We additionally considered parental input and engagement and providing the awareness of possibilities of college enrollment in STEM in developing the marketplace.  

This culminated in TOYZSTEAM featuring four components: INSPIRE, LEARN, CREATE, SELL.  They are Inspired to Tell their TOYZSTORY They Learn using TOYZSTEAM and are given tools to virtually Create and become TOYZMAKERS and share their TOYZSTORIES in a culturally responsive way while earning money Selling on our TOYZSTORE marketplace. While many individual tools allow students to create virtual designs and stories that exist separately, there are no systems that integrate them into a single coherent platform that guides students in learning how to leverage these tools to be creative in an equitable way. Additionally, many of these tools exist only as desktop applications. This is a challenge for our specific set of students who may not have access to great computers, however, Nielsen The African American Diverse Intelligence Series 2020 has reported 98% of African Americans own smartphones. We are evaluating if building a mobile application to develop the talent of diverse and disadvantaged students, especially African Americans, towards employment and entrepreneurship in STEM-related industries can be effective in combating systemic racism and structural challenges.

Scroll to Top