TechJOYnT puts the JOY into tech-based education for Oklahoma children

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 5:00 am By: Jim Stafford Source: The Oklahoman

As Ray Shaik and a car full of elementary age children navigated the long stretch of interstate highway between St. Louis and Oklahoma City toward school and home in 2011, they showed that neither a whiteboard nor a black marker are required for effective brainstorming.

Shaik and the children were returning from a world robotics competition in St. Louis where Shaik had served as the voluntary coach for the Oklahoma team.

Now the kids were bummed that robotics season was over. They wanted to be able to enjoy year-round technology-based activities.

So, Shaik decided to create such a year-round, after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program. As they drove down Interstate 44 toward OKC, he challenged the children to come up with a concept.

“I gave them a project for that summer,” Shaik said. “If it means so much to them, why don't they come up with a name and a concept of what they would like to learn.”

With input from all four of his then elementary-age daughters, Shaik founded techJOYnT STEM Academy & After-School Enrichment Learning Centers after that 2011 road trip.

“We came up with Techpoint and several other names, but this stuck,” said Shaik, now the CEO of the techJOYnT Learning Centers.

“They liked the JOY aspect of learning,” he said. “One of the fundamental things I had in mind when I started this was that kids should not be pushed to come here, but there should be a draw and a pull for them to continuously improve their skills.”

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