The Disruption Department provides the platform and the resources for students to learn, to build, and to share innovative things.
All children in the St. Louis region will have the opportunity to earn a thriving living in a high-tech or creative field.
WHAT WE DO
The Disruption Department creates a regional network of support structures for students interested in working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, or Mathematics (STEAM). Our programming involves learning during the school day, after school, in the field, and at home. There are three core activities that Disruption Department sees will transform opportunities for St. Louis’ students: STEAM programming in schools, the student fellowship program, and strategic regional partnerships.
1. STEAM IN SCHOOLS
First, The Disruption Department partners with area schools to establish Makerspaces (places where people can go to design and prototype things) and to integrate making into the core academic program through common-core aligned curriculum development. Starting in early elementary school, students are exposed to hands-on activities in design, the nature of building things and taking them apart, and STEAM. These are essential to building an innovative generation of young people. Through the Makerspace approach, we generate palpable excitement for kids, schools and the community for the future of our economy.
2. STUDENT FELLOWSHIP: AN AGILE TEAM-BASED APPROACH
Second, middle and high school students have the opportunity to apply to our fellowship program, which includes a team-based approach to mentoring and skill-development. Each fellow receives a laptop and an internet connection for home, allowing them to focus on the hours of practice necessary to learn software engineering skills. From the time they enter the program, our fellows work in teams of five, led by a coach, who helps encourage fellows to stretch their skills and connects them with industry mentors at startups and companies throughout the region. Teams proactively reflect on a weekly timeline, using qualitative and quantitative data to set objectives and key results that ensure progress towards their goals. Each month, the teams meet at Hackdays, where we expose students to an array of project-based activities that reflect a field within the technological industry. If a student enjoys a certain activity, we provide extension resources that allow students to learn and do more in that field. Each year, students in the teams work on a large-scale collaborative project that either benefits the community or goes to market, with revenues being saved in a scholarship account for each student. By cultivating an ethic of constant reflection, communication, and collaboration within a team structure, we ensure students develop the social and technical skills to be successful at university, as employees, and as community members.
3. REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS
The third aspect of our theory of change involves partnerships with local non-profit organizations, universities, corporations, and area entrepreneurs to ensure life opportunities for our fellows upon High School graduation. Our goal is that every one of our fellows is 100% prepared to enter a STEAM program at a University, can be hired in an engineering or design department at any Corporation in the St. Louis region, or has the tools and network to start their own company to solve a problem they care deeply about. There are incredible organizations that are improving the academic outcomes for students throughout St. Louis, but they need our help ensuring that students can meet the strict application requirements for the highest quality STEAM programs available. Additionally, we believe that regional universities, corporations and entrepreneurs can and should support transformational life-outcomes for our students that need them most. Furthermore, because our fellows will have the social and technical training to succeed, we think that this will benefit the universities, corporations and entrepreneurial community in extraordinary ways.