Involved in STEM competitions as students, brothers Sayan and Sohil Bhatia have enjoyed developing their education and skills in unique ways through science, technology, engineering and math, but felt there weren’t enough STEM educational opportunities in school for young students.
Launching Start STEM Early (SSE) in 2018, the Redmond, Washington brothers are volunteering to support elementary and early middle school students around the world through free science and technology learning programs. 18-year-old Sayan and 16-year-old Sohil have since connected with more than 7,000 students through their educational sessions, preparing the future generation of science and technology innovators.
What inspires you to volunteer?
Sohil: I see myself in the younger students we teach, struggling and learning all new STEM topics. I’m inspired to constantly keep growing to continue our impact and apply some of my learnings to improve the future for students.
Describe your volunteerism with SSE.
Sayan: As co-founders, we volunteer to foster interactive learning amongst our students and encourage students to start STEM early. We plan out STEM curriculum and courses and connect with school districts across the United States to offer our education. We also manage marketing and online communication. We have sponsors that help to support our activities. All of our programs and STEM sessions are free to students worldwide, but we also allow donations.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
Sohil: We see 1st and 2nd grade students walking into our class not having any programming experience, but by the end of the 6 week program, they build things like a fully functional calculator and Ariana Grande trivia apps. Witnessing that growth has been a really big moment for me. That’s when I realized the impact I was making.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Sayan: People have their own unique set of skills and knowledge specific to some area of their life. It’s important to give back that set of skills to do some good and help others.
How have you continued to volunteer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sohil: Our programs went virtual because of the pandemic, and that has accelerated the growth of our organization. We’ve been able to reach new school districts across the U.S., and promote our sessions worldwide. We also started virtual hackathons for students worldwide to create apps for tech projects. It is a great way for students to learn about projects and apply their knowledge to create something.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Sayan: Volunteering always has to start small. We started with a room of 10 students, but that grew because we took action and made an effort to grow our organization. Focus on your mission and don’t be afraid to take a step up and get working.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
When you’re not busy with volunteering or school, what do you do for fun?
Sayan: Mainly photography. Hanging out with friends. Playing rec football.
Sohil: I’m passionate about dancing, and I like choreography. Occasionally, I like to make films. Of course, listen to music.
How can readers help?
Please visit our website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Sayan and Sohil Bhatia? Find local volunteer opportunities.