'Shark Tank's STEMCenter Encourages Education Using Robots

You probably haven't heard of STEMCenter USA before, but after Friday night, you may become the organization's biggest supporter. On this week's episode of Shark Tank, STEMCenter USA will share its platform, which is definitely one worth getting behind. They work to help encourage kids to get into, well, STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to their website, their mission is to "inspire the next generation of STEM leaders" through "experiential education that excites, engages, and enriches through a unique, learn-by-doing curriculum." Basically, they employ a hands-on approach to teaching science in the hopes of inspiring the youngsters to eventually pursue a career in science.

STEMCenter, which was founded by sisters Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal in 2011, is currently based in Claremont, California. But the hope is, with the help of the Sharks, they'll be able to expand to locations across the U.S., effectively extending their reach.

Their main focus? Robotics. And really, when you think about it, what better way to get kids hooked on engineering than with robots? They offer a slew of on-site classes and workshops for kids ages 4 and up — their courses range from advanced 80-hour intensives for high school students, to free introductory workshops for pre-K kids, and everything in between.

They also sell robotics kits to help foster interest in STEM — they even managed to raise over $100,000 via Kickstarter (surpassing their original goal by over $30,000) to help fund the production of their Pi-Bot kit. The Pi-Bot is unique in a few ways — primarily its low price tag and educational value. At just $75 per kit, it's actually pretty affordable, and is designed to be difficult, but not too hard for students to construct on their own. And, since reaching its funding goal, Pi-Bot is actually become pretty widespread — it's already being introduced in select universities, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.

Sounds pretty impressive, right? So, will the Sharks end up investing in STEMCenter USA? As far as causes go, it doesn't get much worthier than education. Then again, as Carter Matt points out, it doesn't exactly seem like the most lucrative business venture. We'll have to wait and see if the Sharks are willing to give these robots a chance. 

Images: Adam Rose/ABC; Giphy

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