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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Iridescent

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: General Science, Technology

Mission: Iridescent creates and delivers powerful science, engineering and technology education to help underprivileged young people develop curiosity, creativity and perseverance.

Results: We are a volunteer driven organization. Over the past 10 years:
* Iridescent has directly served over 63,000 participants, inspiring children, youth, and parents to develop their curiosity, perseverance, and interest in science.
* Iridescent has trained over 3,500 volunteer professional engineers, undergraduates, and graduate students and professional women in technology.

Target demographics: under-served and underrepresented young people -- particularly girls

Geographic areas served: US and internationally

Programs: Curiosity Machine, a science and engineering learning platform and program for K-8 students and Technovation, a technology entrepreneurship program for middle and high school girls.

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jessica T.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Iridescent- Curiosity Machine shares engineering challenges for PK-12 students and families. Their online platform is easy to navigate and it provides the connections to Problem Based Learning strategies and provides investigations that express the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards. I have participated in two of Iridescent's presentations. The first was at Maple Primary Center where there were over 200 parents and PK - 1st grade students participating in an engineering challenge. The second event was with parent and community representatives. In both of the presentations, participants had rich instructional conversations utilizing the academic vocabulary needed to effectively communicate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) practices.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been inspired by Iridescent Learning since our inception. Each of the engineering challenges is well thought out and we love how mentors are able to provide feedback on the design process. We plan to use the Curiosity Machine in our elementary program.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization creates user friendly and engaging platforms to assist youth and educators in STEM related fields. Their programs include face to face, online mentorship, professional development and peer to peer methods. They have a large network of professionals that contribute and collaborate along side them. I regularly refer to their "Curiosity Machine" platform when I am mentoring classroom teachers. It is a high quality learning tool that makes learning science interactive while teaching important web-literacy skills like reading, writing and participating on the web.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Iridescent does a great job with reaching out to community schools to foster STEM education for children. They have numerous programs and I am involved in the program called Curiosity Machine. Curiosity Machine has over 90 activities that children can build and participate in to learn about the STEM fields. Mentors like me help them along on this journey. The kids feel connected when interacting with someone in the STEM field. I am privileged to be part of this organization where I can help the next generation of children explore the STEM field and the opportunities that await them in the future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first started working with Iridescent in college, where I was involved in a family science program. Using common household materials, we helped children and their parents build rudimentary engineering devices (i.e. balloon-propelled cars, sky scrapers, suspension bridges, etc) and taught them basic scientific principles. Shortly after, Iridescent launched Curiosity Machine, which is an online version of the family science program. Children participating in the program are guided by mentors via the online platform to design, build, and rebuild various items of their choosing.

I have been volunteering for Curiosity Machine for more than two years now, and I can say the program has really grown since then. The development team is constantly and actively looking for ways to make the mentoring experience better for both the mentees and mentors, and new design challenges are always being produced. We've expanded from individuals participating in the program, now to include summer camps and entire classes from different schools across the country. It has been awesome working with the kids and to see the advancements Iridescent Learning has made in getting science to be more accessible to the general public.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Iridescent is sparking curiosity among the youth. They utilize engineers in the field to help teach these students.

3 TAME_STEM

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering has been thrilled to partner with Iridescent and Boeing in creating Engineering Design Challenges for the 2016 Divisional and State STEM Competitions. They also provided an Educator Workshop for our teachers at State and we received glowing feedback about how valuable both the challenge and the workshop were for our 400 participants. TAME has also been proud to partner with Iridescent and Boeing for regular Family STEM Nights at a middle school in El Paso, Texas. The five-week sessions there brought parents and children together to design, build, and test specific projects to encourage families to engage in learning. We look forward to continuing this work helping inspire students in STEM across the Lone Star state.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We have worked with Iridescent on a few projects and had nothing but a positive experience with them. They have truly remarkable staff who are dedicated to their work. We always look forward to collaborating with them whenever the opportunity arises.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the STEM Lab Teacher at Schmitt Elementary in Columbus, Indiana, and this is my second year using Iridescent's Curiosity Machine. All grades (K-6) visit STEM lab as a Specials class once a week, for a total of 740 students. Grades 3-6 bring their Chromebooks to STEM lab for the online platform of Curiosity Machine. We have online and in class mentors, which are engineers from Cummins, Inc. All grades follow the Engineering Design Process which is part of each Curiosity Machine challenge. Each challenge is divided into 3 sessions (3 weeks). Iridescent has been a vital component in the development of our STEM lab.

Grace46

Advisor

Rating: 5

Iridescent has empowered girls globally to tackle social challenges in their communities through technology. By hosting a challenge called Technovation to encourage girls to form teams, come up with a mobile app addressing a challenge, and then pitch it to judges globally, this nonprofit takes a comprehensive approach to STEM learning. I've personally seen the confidence that girls have gained through this program in places like Bangalore to Silicon Valley.

Courtney719

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the privilege of collaborating with Iridescent to develop curriculum for Family Science Nights that my school cohosted. They are nothing short of amazing, flexible, supportive, and inspiring! The experiences that Iridescent helped create were hands-on and engaging. Both the parents and kids thoroughly enjoyed every week! I can't wait to work with them again in the spring!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Engineering for ALL! - Our elementary school has been using Curiosity Machine for the last three years. We absolutely love the opportunities it provides our students and families! All grade level teachers use the Curiosity Machine platform each trimester as part of their STEM curriculum. Additionally, teachers WANT to incorporate extra design challenges into their before and after-school enrichment classes because of the engagement and excitement it brings to the classroom. I personally have used it for three years and each design challenge works to improve student collaboration, writing, and problem-solving skills. Students get very excited to summarize their finding and upload their images and videos. Our next design challenge will begin in two weeks and I can’t wait to get started with our students. Thank you Curiosity Machine for an unbeatable addition to our STEM program!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We use the Curiosity Machine in our K-6 building as a stand-alone STEM lab. The platform enables our students to learn the engineering process, learn to use a growth mindset toward challenges, and cover science standards that normally don't get reached in the classroom. The support team at Iridescent is accessible and open to our feedback to improve. We are fortunate to have them as a partner and to be able to use CM in our school.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The process they have created considers every every person involved, the volunteer, the parent and the student. Their materials and training make it an easy process to continue on for your community. Every person we worked with was helpful, creative and genuinely partnering with us. I know they are still a resource to us!

The families that participated in the science nights raved. It is unique to be able to include all member of a family, these activities naturally differentiate so that all ages felt engaged.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

For the past few years I have been scheduling Curiosity Machine programs for tween and teen patrons at the Palisades Branch Library. Usually the events are also attended by parents and/or caregivers. The programs make scientific learning fun. We use the programs to teach the scientific method as well. Normally, we view the videos that accompany each CM Challenge. We distribute paper and writing utensils to have participants map out their designs. We provide the recommended materials. If they get "stuck," we then show the videos that explain how the challenge can be met. The programs are extremely well received and we have families that attend each one. What I like best about the CM is that most of the scientists who are interviewed are female. That says volumes to little girls who are afraid of math/science and gives them the encouragement that shows them that they too can be a STEAM girl.

Photos:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/103426831323749786138/album/AF1QipPM-qcfKDt5o4CBYzDfBYrDq9kTde5uSvjlGlby?source=pwa&authKey=CP2qiaLJotaN3wE

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Iridescent's mission, vision, values and people are simply fantastic. We at Cummins Inc. (a fortune 200 company) partnered with them in June 2015 to implement their Curiosity Machine (CM) program in our local community - Columbus, IN. First, we piloted the program at three Columbus parks. After the success of the pilot, we implemented the CM program at a title-1 school, Schmitt Elementary where ~400 students (3rd-6th graders) completed ~700 design challenges during 2015 - 2016 on the Curiosity Machine platform. Seeing students thrive in the program and connect with their Cummins' mentors, the school decided to integrate it into their regular curriculum.

The most awesome part about the platform is that the design challenges are structured in the format of the engineering design process - a process that we not only use at Cummins in our day-day work, but also in our day-day lives. Hence, as children follow this process while doing the design challenges, they get a first-hand experience of how it is like to be an engineer - a problem solver. Additionally, the platform helps students develop their curiosity, creativity, and persistence to experiment and find solutions despite failures.

Here at Cummins we have worked with several non-profits but the amount of enthusiasm that the CM program generated and the widespread impact it has had in just one year make's Iridescent the best STEM non-profit out there. Kudos to the whole Iridescent team for actually making a difference in people's lives.

25

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The leaders of Iridescent are very professional. The Engineers as Teachers program is an excellent idea. Not only do the students get to meet and work with aspiring engineers but the engineering students have an opportunity to talk about their plans to the students. They students who came to our school were so well matched for our students. Tara and Kara prepared the engineering students. They brought everything they needed. In one instance, we only needed to provide water. The students remained engaged throughout the 4 weeks they were on campus. Students looked forward to their visits. As a former teacher, I remember the first day I stepped in front of students for the first time. I could not have asked for a better way to get students to realize that engineers are people, too, and that there are so many different avenues they can follow if they choose to be engineers. I cannot recommend Iridescent and the Engineers as Teachers program enough. An excellent way to get role models into the schools. Who knows - some may become teachers, I hope. Just what we need, excellent, passionate teachers to instruct our future engineers and scientists.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An amazing nonprofit! The organization focuses on teaching local elementary, middle, and sometimes high school students about science and engineering. They have weekly in-school sessions, which take place in the classroom, as well as "Family Science", which is a 2-hour session with the kids and their families. But what sets Iridescent apart is their dedication to hands on activities, where students are actively involved in both the design and build phases. In addition, they recruit engineering students from the neighboring universities and provide extensive training on how to be an effective teacher. The experience challenges the university students to accurately simplify difficult concepts, while the kids get to apply their creativity to engineering. At the conclusion of the 4-week session, Iridescent quantitatively assesses the improvement of the kids and the teaching quality of the students. They provide feedback so that each session gets better and better. At a time when the number of American students going into science and engineering is declining, programs like these are critical to inspiring upcoming generations and keeping the US science and technology-oriented.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started my involvement with Iridescent about a year ago by helping out a friend as she taught a Family Science Session to elementary school students. I had a great time and was able to get involved in my Fall semester, taking a course at USC, AME 490 - Engineers as Teachers. I taught an optics course for 7th Grader that I developed with the help of Kara and Tara. For many of the students, I was one of the first engineers that they had ever met. I was able to communicate scientific and engineering principles to them while participating in hands on science lessons. I just recently taught Iridescent's Animal Locomotion lessons to 3rd through 5th grade students. Tara and Kara, who run the operations, are great. They are super fun and animated. They also answers email super fast.