After revealing January’s Amber Grant Finalists last Monday, we’re happy to announce our third qualification grant winner, Makeda Ricketts, founder of PinkThink.
Read on to learn all about Makeda and her company.
WN:Talk about the concept of PinkThink and how you arrived at that name.
MR: The disconnect between STEM subjects and girls was something that had been bothering me for a while. I had worked with a lot of organizations that were geared towards enriching the education of girls outside the classroom but often had trouble keeping girls engaged in subjects like math and science.
However, the real catalyst for me starting PinkThink was my little sister. As she got older I really wanted to create something for her and girls like her that would that would keep them engaged in STEM subjects.
The first thing I did when starting PinkThink is ask girls what was keeping them from being interested in STEM. A common response was that they found STEM boring and wanted it to be more inline with their interests. The main focus of PinkThink is bridging the gap between STEM education and the social and fun activities that tween girls typically enjoy.
Another recurring response from girls was that girls are not typically good at STEM or would have to work really hard to learn STEM subjects like math. I came up with the name PinkThink to get girls to think about STEM as something that is natural, intuitive and part of their everyday lives.
WN:Currently, girls can design their own virtual nail polish on the website. What other products will be unveiled down the line?
MR: Our first game PinkEngineer is designed to teach girls STEM by having them develop, design and market a variety of products. We started with nail polish because girls really wanted that to be the first product. We just had another testing session with nine girls right before we launched the game and they told us they really want lip-gloss to be the next product. They even told us the types of bottle designs they want, etc. so we are currently working on creating a lip-gloss version of the game.
Also, a lot of girls have expressed an interest in having DIY chemistry activities that they can do at home, so we are also working on creating an activity center that would teach girls how to create these products in real life.
WN: How will you monetize the business?
MR: We currently work with a lot of charter schools. They have already bought games that we have designed specifically for their after-school programs and certain classes. Although we offered PinkEngineer for free, we do plan to start charging the general public for our games as well, starting with a fun coding game we are offering in March.
WN: What does the future hold for PinkThink? What are your long-term goals?
MR: We plan to create an array of games for each of the four areas of STEM. We started with Engineering but now we really wanted to focus on Technology. Our next game we are working on is a coding game that will teach girls programming skills. We are really excited about it and the feedback from girls has been amazing. We plan to launch the game in March.
Long term I really want to expand PinkThink and create a foundation focused on closing the digital divide that exists due to economic and social inequalities. I think it is imperative that kids in inner cities and also in third world counties learn STEM and have the skills to not only make use of the current technology but also to innovate and create new technologies.
As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!
If you’d like to vote for Makeda to win the $2,000 Amber Grant you can vote for her here.