Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab Continues to Broaden its Reach

Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab Continues to Broaden its Reach

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 10:00am

CAMPAIGN: STEM Education

CONTENT: Article

Our Thinkabit Lab program shows students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds that they can be part of inventing the wireless world of the future. Learners of all ages explore careers available at Qualcomm and other technology companies. They engage in fun and unique engineering projects culminating in the design of an Internet of Things (IoT)-themed invention to solve a real-world problem. These activities help students understand where they see themselves in the future workforce and how they could use technology to help make the world a better place.

We launched our Thinkabit Lab program in 2014 at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego. We have evolved and expanded the program yearly to broaden our reach and create greater impact. As of 2020, our program has inspired over 78,000 students across the U.S. to become the next generation of inventors. Through collaborations with public, private, and nonprofit organizations, we now have a celebrated network of 16 Thinkabit Lab sites and 30 trained instructors at schools, universities, and libraries in five states nationwide.

We formed new partnerships and built on existing collaborations to broaden our reach and deepen our impact. We added new content to engage learners of different ages, like our “What is 5G?” video which explains this transformative fifth generation of wireless technology and its potential to reinvent education.

We collaborated formally for the first time with the San Diego chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and Code.org to collectively support teachers in San Diego County. More than 40 CSTA members representing K-16 education learned about resources at the Thinkabit Lab Learning Center and how to get involved with the FIRST Robotics Competition, which Qualcomm supports.

We enabled teachers across all grade levels to incorporate new coding activities during Computer Science Education Week—including Hour of Code —and beyond by placing Thinkabit Lab hardware kits in their hands so they could pilot new coding activities.

We continued to tap into Qualcomm employees' passion and commitment to inspire the next generation of inventors to help us expand our reach in local communities. Our network of 53 Thinkabit Lab ambassadors collectively volunteered over 250 hours of their time engaging with schools and organizations to build STEM capacity among teachers and educators in communities inside and outside the U.S. They participated in speakerships, summer camps, workshops, family nights, and other onsite events, prior to the pandemic and virtually during the pandemic.

In the fall of 2019, we celebrated National STEM Day by participating in a STEM fair on the lawn at our Company’s headquarters in San Diego. We featured 5G Game, which underscores Qualcomm’s role in developing 5G technology. The purpose of this fair was to highlight the programs of Qualcomm’s non-profit and internal STEM partners, and to promote volunteer opportunities to employees, which generated 25 new STEM ambassadors. 

Our online Learning Center continues to provide educators, librarians, youth organization leaders, and community members with access to a variety of fun and free coding activities which can be downloaded for use in their classroom, home or organization.

Taking STEM Education Virtual

When COVID-19 hit, we further expanded our summer program with new online and virtual activities that enabled many more future inventors across the U.S. to participate. We shared our 10 best remote learning practices for teaching STEM with other educators to support teachers starting a new academic year teaching their students remotely. 

We are particularly excited about our new virtual learning approach which engaged close to 350 students in 19 virtual week-long camps across seven Thinkabit Lab sites, including our long-standing collaboration with the American Association of University Women’s Tech Trek program for girls. Our three-month summer offerings marked a 325 percent increase compared to student participation the previous summer. The program’s success was highlighted on Qualcomm’s Podcast Channel

STEM Camp culminated in student programming and building one of three different types of robotic inventions:

  • Tech for Good. Campers used IoT and Sustainability frameworks to solve a problem within one of the five sectors that align with our Company’s Wireless Reach initiative—health care, entrepreneurship, public safety, education, and the environment.
  • AgTech for Good. Campers used frameworks of AgTech IoT technology to solve a problem within sustainable agriculture. 
  • Wearable Tech. Campers used a wearable tech/consumer electronic sectors to create automated wearable hats that represented their strengths, interests, and values.

Thinkabit Lab Makes a Difference in Students' Lives

Confidence in Coding and Engineering: 

"I want our students to realize that there are endless possibilities for their future, even if they don’t see it in their community. The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab program provides our students with resources to explore careers as well as completing hands-on coding and engineering activities. You can see the students’ confidence grow as they progress through the activities. Hearing students say, “I’m good at this!” or “My ‘geniusness’ works!” makes my heart smile." – Middle School Thinkabit Lab Program Administrator

Career aspirations: 

"My day at the lab was hard but inspiring. We chose a really hard thing – a coffee machine. We failed a lot but when we finally succeeded, it was great! Now I want to be an inventor!" – 4th Grade Student, The Tech Lab @ Cedar Point Elementary

“I enjoyed the opportunity to go to the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab because it helped me solidify my plans around my educational and career aspirations. I also loved the hands-on, interactive aspects of the experience.” – 6th Grade Student, Thinkabit Lab at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center

To learn more about the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, click here

To learn more about Qualcomm’s 2025 goals and ESG performance in 2020, access the full report here

CATEGORY: Education