Full STEAM Ahead with Danielle Boyer: STEAM Connections

Danielle presenting at EMSWUG
Danielle presenting at EMSWUG

Danielle Boyer is a STEAM advocate and SOLIDWORKS user. Learn more about her student journey in part one.

When we last spoke for her SOLIDWORKS Women in Engineering feature, Danielle Boyer told me about her FIRST Robotics Competition team’s special project. Team 4384, Benzene Bots, created Every Kid Gets A Robot, a low-cost alternative to the Lego Mindstorms kits used by FIRST Lego League teams. Designed in SOLIDWORKS, Every Kid Gets A Robot proved to be a popular and effective way for Danielle and her teammates to teach robotics to kids and reach out to their community. In the summer of 2018, Every Kid Gets A Robot cost $50. Now, version 3.0 is $18.95. This fiscal feat was achieved by taking out elements from the original design and shrinking the design as a whole. And the entire robot is 3D printed.

“If I were able to send the Bill of Materials and the CAD to someone in a different country, the likelihood of them being able to produce it themselves is high,” Danielle said. She’s had significant outside interest in Every Kid Gets A Robot, both from schools and SOLIDWORKS user groups. In fact, Danielle received donations from SOLIDWORKS User Group Network (SWUGN) members all over the world. The donations went directly to Every Kid Gets A Robot.

Every Kid Gets A Robot has been a great tool that allows Danielle to both teach robotics to kids and reach out to under-served communities. A resident of Troy, MI, Danielle is determined to bring better STEAM resources and opportunities to kids in towns that have been left behind by the education system. This determination is part of what led to The STEAM Connection, an organization she started in late 2018.

Every Kid Gets A Robot display at EMSWUG
Every Kid Gets A Robot display at EMSWUG

“Accessible STEAM education is all I care about,” Danielle explained when discussing her organization. The STEAM Connection’s goal is to be a sustainable and consistent resource to the global STEAM community through accessible education. Currently, Danielle is achieving this goal with her five STEAM coloring books. Each 20-page book, meant for K-2 students, focuses on a different letter in the STEAM acronym (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), and showcases a diverse cast of characters. “They’re coloring books because every kid deserves to see a version of themselves and their friends,” she said. By allowing children to draw in the books, Danielle hopes to help kids strengthen their memories and give them a powerful STEAM resource they can make their own.

The wordless coloring books came from an idea Danielle had while seeing her students off for the summer. A large number of the students she works with travel to visit their families, spending months in parts of India, Africa, and South America. She created the coloring books so there would be no language barrier for kids in those countries: a picture of a girl building a robot is the same in any language. The books were hand illustrated by Danielle and other teens in her home county. And while she’s rightfully proud of the work she’s done, there’s still more to do. “I’m working on an app as well,” she said. “It feels ironic that a lot of the books talk about saving the environment and helping others and then it’s printed on paper.” Her current goal is to make the coloring books available on tablets, while still having the paper version at the ready for kids who don’t have access to those kinds of electronics.

Danielle and Dakshesh at the Dallas Children's Heath Center
Danielle and Dakshesh at the Dallas Children’s Heath Center

When Danielle flew to Dallas, TX, to attend SOLIDWORKS World 2019, she brought coloring books with her. Not to hand out at the conference, but to give to children at the Dallas Children’s Medical Center. She and her teammate (and SOLIDWORKS World co-presenter) Dakshesh Daruri spent a day with the kids in the hospital, playing video games and coloring. “I started a policy that when I travel, I need to volunteer wherever I’m traveling,” Danielle said. “I feel like it’s important to help everyone I can. I’m hopeful that people see what I’m doing and hopefully do it themselves.”

At SOLIDWORKS World, Danielle met people from all over the world, creating new connections in the SOLIDWORKS community. Some of the connections she made at SOLIDWORKS World have opened new doors for her. For example, she met representatives from Fisher Unitech, a SOLIDWORKS reseller local to her hometown, and she will be working with them to teach SOLIDWORKS classes. And that’s not all. Danielle has so many more with connections she’s made and built. Learn more about her future plans in Part Three: A Bright Future

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman is a SOLIDWORKS Education Contractor, Social Media and Marketing. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and recently earned a Certificate in Web Development from MassBay Community College. Sara is excited about utilizing this blog to combine her two passions, writing and technology.