Indian American-founded firm launching innovative STEM education program in India

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STEM Academy of USA to target students in grades 4 through 10, as part of its effort to ignite the innovative trait.

Students learning STEM through innovative method at a school in Delhi.
Students learning STEM through innovative method at a school in Delhi.

An Indian American-founded company is introducing a new method of teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to middle and secondary school students in India through experiential learning.

The Atlanta-based STEM Academy of USA will launch its innovative teaching program in select schools across India beginning January 1, as part of its effort to promote STEM education among students enrolled in grades 4 through 10.

“It is an interdisciplinary way of teaching math and science, integrated with day-to-day engineering and technology,” Amitabh Sharma, a co-founder of the Academy, told The American Bazaar.

The program targets students enrolled in schools affiliated with four major boards that regulate primary and secondary school education in India: the Central Board of Secondary Education, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, state school boards and International Baccalaureate.

Sharma said the Academy has been working on developing modules based on syllabuses being offered by the Indian boards for the past three and half years. It has consulted educators at prominent US universities, including Harvard and MIT, he added.

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So far it has “painstakingly mapped 56 different concepts and developed modules along with tool-kits for each of these concepts,” Sharma said.

The Indian school outreach and implementation is being done by the Academy’s Gurgaon-based India channel partner MPower Global STEM Education, where customization and sales and marketing team led by CEO V.K. Garg is spearheading the mission, he said.

At the center of the Academy’s innovative teaching program are STEM labs, where students will learn different scientific and mathematical concepts through various modules, practical tool kits, peer-to-peer learning and group discussions. Each module comes with students and teachers manuals, as well as pre-assessment and post-assessment kits.

Amitabh Sharma

“What we are endeavoring to do is to impart STEM education as a part of the school time table,” Sharma said. “By adopting our method, the students will get ingrained into this philosophy. Their creative talent and innovative ability will get harnessed. It will help the teachers finish the syllabus faster as students will learn concept deeper and better, aside from becoming creative future leaders.”

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The company will open a “Center of Excellence” in Delhi next month that will train and certify teachers.

The Academy has already conducted training programs for teachers in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Sharma said, under the company’s teaching system, the role of the teacher will be different. “They would transition to becoming facilitators, rather than instructors,” he said. “We want to create an echo system, and a whole community of such STEM-trained teachers.”

The Atlanta entrepreneur said, by giving emphasize on experiential learning, science and math can be made joy to learn, and his company’s portable science models will help teachers to easily explain even difficult concepts to the students making science and math fun.

Sharma said the Academy’s mission is to ignite the innovative trait in young Indian students and “create a new generation of youngsters who will think out of the box.” He added: “This is quite in line with President Obama’s drive ‘Educate to Innovate’. If US can get benefitted with STEM, so can India with its current focus on aggressive programs such as, ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’ and ‘New India.’

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Sharma pointed out that, while the country has produced a number of Fortune 100 CEOs, it is yet to create an inventor in the mold of Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

Founders Sharma and Paddy Sharma are both Indian Americans.

Amitabh Sharma, who has an MBA, a law degree and a doctorate in marketing, is a serial entrepreneur with experience in oil and gas, information technology and education. He is the founding chair of the American India Foundation’s Atlanta Leadership Council.

Paddy Sharma, who obtained a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, is the founder of “FIHI Hope Foundation,” which helps young students receive good education and clean living.