Target Tech Kids: Spotlight on STEM

August 17, 2022

Rebecca Roeder's profile photo
Rebecca Roeder

Senior Manager, Operations

Beth Miller's profile photo
Beth Miller

Target Tech Kids, Outreach Program Manager

Target Tech Kids (TTK) is a philanthropic effort that delivers STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and resources for K-8 students, with a focus on underserved communities with low rates of subject matter exposure. We established the program in 2018 and this year we plan to share our passion with our biggest in-person event yet at the Minnesota State Fair's STEM Day celebration!
Who We Are
TTK is a group of Target team member volunteers who seek to encourage and inspire STEM education for young minds in the Twin Cities metro area. We use carefully curated curriculum and programming in virtual and hands-on settings to help develop youth interest and confidence in the topics. Additionally, we sponsor events to celebrate learning with online education, take-home technical activities, and a digital library of games and exercises. We are an inclusive collaboration aiming to create more equitable student access to STEM.
We are proud of our expanding footprint throughout Minneapolis and within our own Target team member families. Through over 400 hours that volunteers have dedicated to our various partnerships and programs, our efforts have reached 1,285 children so far this year. Our TTK group believes one of the most valuable metrics of success is the participants' excitement for our STEM programs – we're seeing kids learn, feel accomplished, and eager to do more.
Making an Impact
Northside STEM
One TTK partner is Northside STEM , a local Minneapolis organization focused on inspiring and empowering young students of color to pursue STEM education and careers. Together with Northside STEM we introduced a new program, STEM Teacher Workshop, to equip local teachers with STEM activities that are easy, engaging, and fiscally accessible. Activities like 'Marble Run', 'Squishy Circuits' and 'Program Me' were a few favorites with attendees and volunteers alike. One school's administrator saw so much value in our STEM Teacher Workshop program, she decided to make attendance mandatory for her teachers in the future.
Full STEAM Ahead
Earlier this year, TTK piloted our new webinar broadcast program, Full STEAM Ahead, which includes team-building technical activities and introductions to other available community programming. We were able to capture a wider audience by encouraging teachers to play the webinar live in their classrooms, and the content was met with wonderful feedback:
“Wow! The pilot (Full) STEAM (Ahead) project was very exciting for our students! They were engaged and the highlight of the STEAM lab according to the students and staff was the coding and robotics. Students were so engaged that they wished they could continue for a longer time... We are very grateful and look forward to another STEAM lab for our student innovators!”
- Dr. Omotoke Olatoye, Executive Director, Innovation STEM Academy
Online Coding Classes
“I can’t leave. This is so much fun,” said one participant when his mom, Target team member Taisha Mikell, offered him a snack during one of our youth coding events. For a National Engineering Month celebration back in February, TTK volunteers created and led a one-hour online class rooted in Python, HTML and CSS. We had 45 young coders join us and we heard from our own Target team members that they were particularly appreciative of a fun activity for their children on President's Day, a day off from school.
Internal Team Member Events
TTK Steering Committee Member Jon Bjorkman joined our collective in 2019 after experiencing first-hand the value of our programs at a Target Halloween Party for team members and their families. His 12-year-old daughter took to a chemistry project that included blowing up a ghost face balloon using the reaction of baking soda to vinegar. She loved the concept right away and quickly demonstrated leadership and empathy as she helped younger kids with their own ghost faces. It was an experience that left Jon feeling impressed with his daughter's blossoming skill sets and he was motivated to soon join TTK and help grow our audience and impact.
...and soon, at the Minnesota State Fair!
To those in and around Minnesota: We want to celebrate STEM with you and the kids in your life! TTK will be at the Minnesota State Fair this year on Thursday, August 25th for the STEM Day celebration (our booth will be located at Dan Patch Park right in front of the Grandstand). We’ll be offering STEM-themed activities and educational giveaways and will share more about our programming and its impact. We hope to see you there and we look forward to spreading more STEM joy this summer and reaching more K-8 students in the years to come.