When Jon Blanchard was in college, he dreamed up an idea while passing the time playing video games. He wondered if there was a way he could teach students concepts of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, through basketball. He turned that vision into an organization called STEMletics and now, he teaches Flint students science and math while they play their favorite games.
“We love having STEMletics at our YouthQuest sites,” says Dr. Kimberly Leverette, executive director of Education & Talent, a division of Flint & Genesee Group. “Kids are engaged in the programming that their organization provides and are learning STEM concepts simultaneously.”
Blanchard likes working with YouthQuest because of the breadth of students he and his team are able to work with.
“It gives me the opportunity to extend my program to new students,” says Blanchard. “I get to bring my love of STEM to these students and help them reach their goals and expand their knowledge.”
Recently, Blanchard has added Esports to his array of offerings. Through this program, he teaches students about coding and circuitry and exposes them to the competitive world of gaming, which has increased in popularity in recent years.
“Through Esports, I show students the various career pathways they can take around video games,” says Blanchard. “Students can pursue streaming and competitive gaming, or they can do video game testing.”
What is important about the partnership between STEMletics and YouthQuest?
I think it’s good that the students have a variety of programming and different activities with the various vendors, like myself, that they bring in. They can add more specialized lessons like STEM along with the program they already provide.
What does your organization provide for people in Flint?
We opened a facility last year and provide programs there such as boot camps and weekend camps. We also have students come and participate in events such as Esports tournaments.
Why is YouthQuest important to the area?
It gives small businesses the opportunity to reach a larger number of students and gives students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities outside of sports. It also provides mentorship for students in the area and additional support for parents who might need it.
YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
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