Visit YouthQuest’s Exhibit at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

USA Science & Engineering Festival logo

YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative will be on display at America’s largest celebration of STEM, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, April 26-27 in Washington, DC.

Students and teachers from the 3D design and printing classes the Foundation sponsors at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy will participate in our interactive exhibit, “Better Thinking Through 3D Printing.”

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks talks to children about 3D printing at a STEM career fair in Dulles, Va.

3D printers always attract curious kids and adults at events like this STEM career fair with Director of Instruction Tom Meeks last year.

Our 3D ThinkLink Initiative helps teach at-risk youth to think differently and solve problems creatively so they can make better decisions as they enter adulthood. The Freestate and Capital Guardian Cadets at our booth will be telling visitors what they’ve learned and showing how they use software and hardware to turn ideas into 3D-printed reality.

Our strategic partner 3D Systems is teaming up with us for this event. We will have neighboring booths at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We’ll also use the company’s Sense scanners and Sculpt modeling software to capture 3D images of booth visitors and put their faces on coins and cameos created on the spot by 3D Systems printers.

The bookmark/rulers we’ll be handing out at our booth will show visitors how to try 3D printing themselves. By going to a page on our website, they will be able to create customized rings and tags using 3D Systems’ online Cubify tools.

If you’re going to be in the Washington area April 26-27, please visit us at Booth 1136 in Exhibit Hall A of the Convention Center from 9 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is FREE and open to all ages.

USASEF is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. This third annual event will bring together hundreds of the leading professional scientific and engineering societies, universities, government agencies, high-tech corporations and STEM outreach and community organizations.

More than 250,000 K-12 students and parents, 5,000 teachers and 3,000 STEM professionals are expected. They’ll experience more than 3,000 fun, hands-on activities and 150 stage shows featuring science celebrities such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, physicist and visionary Michio Kaku and the Grammy-winning band They Might Be Giants.

The festival will include a Career Pavilion and College Fair for high school students.

Visit this link to plan your day at USASEF: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/

YouthQuest Sponsors Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

YouthQuest Foundation Co-Founder and Vice President Allen Cage speaks at the 2014 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

YouthQuest Foundation Co-Founder and Vice President Allen Cage joined hundreds of students, parents and community leaders at Tuesday night’s Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition in Ashburn, Va.

YouthQuest Foundation Co-Founder and Vice President Allen Cage presents a check to Loudoun Youth President and CEO Jared Melvin at the 2014 Step Up Loudoun Youth competition.

Allen Cage with Jared Melvin

“We’re proud to be part of this and I applaud each and every one of you,” he told the crowd. “You do great work and keep it up.”

Forty-six teams from middle schools and high schools in Loudoun County were judged on presentations about their projects to solve problems in their community.

Allen kicked off the evening by presenting a check for $2,450 to Loudoun Youth President and CEO Jared Melvin, noting that this is the third year YouthQuest has provided the prize money for the contest.

“We look forward to doing it again next year, too,” he added.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and Vice President Allen Cage talks to the 2014 Step Up Loudoun Youth judges about the Foundation's work.

Allen tells the judges about Youthquest

Before the event at the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building began, Allen spoke about YouthQuest with the contest judges, who represented a wide variety of area businesses and organizations.

“We’re all about the kids,” he said, explaining that the Foundation raises funds nationwide to support youth programs such as Step Up.

He talked about YouthQuest’s signature fundraiser, The Challenge at Trump National Golf Club, coming up in August and the Foundation’s plan to create a fabrication lab as part of the 3D ThinkLink Initiative.

Madeline O'Neill explains her winning project to judge Cory Laws at the 2014 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

Madeline O’Neill explains her winning project to judge Cory Laws

Madeline O’Neill from Dominion High School won the $1,000 first prize for Special Needs Dream. Her project aims to increase community awareness of what people with special needs can contribute, and to provide educational and social events where families with special-needs children can connect.

The $500 second-place award went to the Happiness: Don’t Drink and Drive team.

Each of the three teams that tied for third place received $250. The prize for fourth through tenth place was $100.

Click here to see a full list of the winning teams.

VIDEO: What’s Ahead for YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative

Keith Hammond and Tom Meeks with Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy cadets 2013

With a new cycle of 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes starting, it’s a good time to take a look at where our STEM education project has been and where it’s going.

What began with a group of eight graduates at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy a year ago has grown to include three programs and three dozen students who will receive 34.5 hours of instruction in 3D design and printing.

The South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy is holding classes for the first time — joining the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, which introduced classes last fall, and Freestate, where the YouthQuest Foundation launched this project last spring.

3D ThinkLink Initiative teacher training

3D ThinkLink Initiative teacher training

Instructors from all three schools spent a week at YouthQuest headquarters last month preparing for this class cycle. While the teachers work in the classrooms, YouthQuest’s Director of Instruction Tom Meeks will lead the sessions via video conferencing from a central location. Tom will also visit each class so he can get to know the students in person and reinforce the message that the things they learn in class will help them make better decisions.

As our 3D ThinkLink Initiative grows, so does the support we receive from our strategic partner, 3D Systems, which provides the Cube printers, Sense scanners and Sculpt software students use in class.

The South Carolina students will tour the company’s Rock Hill headquarters in June as part of their Vocational Orientation Day, which shows them how the skills they learn in class are used in the working world.

We also are teaming up with 3D Systems for an exhibit at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, the nation’s largest celebration of STEM, next month in Washington, DC.

Students from Freestate and Capital Guardian will participate in interactive demonstrations of 3D scanning, modeling and printing. They will have the chance to tell other students what our classes have taught them about solving problems by thinking creatively. When they’re not at our booth, they’ll be exploring the scientific wonderland of exhibits that will fill the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

USASEFOfficial_Partner_Logo_croppedVisit our exhibit at the USA Science and Engineering Festival April 26-27. Participants include more than 750 of the world’s top scientific and engineering societies, universities, government agencies, tech companies and STEM outreach and community organizations. We’ll be in Hall A, Booth 1136 – right next to 3D Systems. It’s free!

The festival is sure to be the kind of life-enriching experience our foundation strives to provide for at-risk youth. It’s also an excellent opportunity to tell our story to people in the STEM education and additive manufacturing communities who can help support YouthQuest’s mission.

One of our immediate priorities is to begin creating a 3D fabrication laboratory equipped with software and printers that can do more than the ones our students use in class. Two students from each of the classes that are now starting will be selected to spend a week in the lab in July, where they will delve deeper into 3D printing and learn to work with materials other than plastic, such as clay and even candy.

Eventually, community groups and individuals will be able to use the facility for a fee, to help cover the costs of our educational programs.

Another goal for this year is to expand the 3D ThinkLink Initiative beyond the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. YouthQuest President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann is leading an outreach effort to partner with other youth organizations that work in underserved communities throughout America.

Click on the video below for more about where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support the 3D ThinkLink Initiativeclick here to donate or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

Teachers Complete 3D ThinkLink Initiative Training

YouthQuest 3D ThinkLink Initiative teacher training

Instructors from three National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Programs spent the week of Feb. 3 preparing for the next round of The YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes.

They completed our first teacher training course at YouthQuest’s headquarters in Chantilly, Va. The sessions led by the Foundation’s Training Director Tom Meeks and President Lynda Mann covered everything from brain development and critical thinking skills to the use of Moment of Inspiration and Cubify Sculpt design software to operating a Cube 3D printer.

Our unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education project uses 3D printing to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By learning to think differently, at-risk teens who once gave up on school become re-engaged in their education and discover how to make better decisions to achieve their goals in life.

Ivan Tucker and Joi Toliver from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy look at a Cube 3D printer

Click the picture to see a photo gallery.

During a busy week of training, the teachers did everything their students will do in class. Hands-on projects included using basic shapes to create an Egyptian level and designing, printing and assembling a set of gears. The 15-unit curriculum wrapped up with a creative exercise in which they manipulated images captured by a Sense 3D scanner.

The teachers also got an overview of the many vocational opportunities for their students. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is used in such diverse fields as automotive and aerospace engineering, cooking, medicine, architecture and art.

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative was launched at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy early last year and expanded to include the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy last fall. Our newest partner is the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy. All three programs will begin 3D classes in March.

Congratulations to the first-class teachers in our first class!

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy
Rikiesha Metzger
Tim Jackson

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Keith Hammond
Herman Lantz

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Joi Toliver
Ivan Tucker

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support the 3D ThinkLink Initiativeclick here to donate or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

3D ThinkLink Initiative’s Impact: ‘I Didn’t Think I Could Learn Anything Like This’

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy Cadet Kenneth Cruz looks at a 3D-scanned image of himself.

Patience. Persistence. Attention to detail. Creativity.

Those are some of the lessons the YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative taught Cadets at the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

Our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education project not only introduces students to the revolutionary field of additive manufacturing, it uses 3D design and printing classes to teach critical thinking skills that help at-risk teens make better decisions as they enter adulthood.

“I didn’t think I could learn anything like this before,” said Cadet Dalonta Crudup, whose dream is to design and build his own house from the ground up.

“I was thinking that when I start architecture in college it was going to be hard, but joining this class has made it seem a lot easier – how to deal with things, how to deal with situations and building stuff,” he said.

Cadet Niema Travers also was worried at first that she wouldn’t be able to learn 3D design and printing.

“Now I can do this without any problem,” she said with a smile. “It made me feel better than anything because … to be able to make something on the computer, for it to print out and be in your hand, is amazing.”

The 3D classes taught Niema, who has her sights set on a career in information technology, to be patient and methodical in solving problems.

“You have to figure out which piece goes where and if you do it wrong, you have to figure out what happened and go back,” she explained. “It takes a lot of hard work, but I love it.”

“It helped me pay attention to detail,” agreed Cadet Kenneth Cruz, who hopes to study 3D printing in college and perhaps become a video game designer.

It was also a confidence-builder for Kenneth and his classmates.

“Being in this class, it helped me understand that you can put your mind to anything,” he said.

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative gave Cadet Gerry Rubi, who plans to be a civil engineer, the opportunity to get creative with technology.

“One of the main things it taught me is there’s a lot of ways to do one thing,” he said.

Gerry took a 3D engineering class at his previous school, but was only able to look at his designs on a computer screen.

“We never got the chance to physically print it out and be able to hold it and say we created that,” he said.

The class at Capital Guardian allowed him to come up ideas for objects, design and print them and make revisions until he was satisfied with finished item. Gerry likened it to the difference between “drawing a picture and bringing the picture to life.”

YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative was launched at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy early last year and expanded to Capital Guardian in the fall. The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program operates these residential academies where dropouts get a second chance to earn a high school degree and prepare for employment or continued education. The ChalleNGe program in South Carolina will start 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes in a few weeks.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support this unique STEM education project, click here to donate or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

Thanks and Best Wishes to Anna Mae Hayden

Anna Mae Hayden is thanked by YouthQuest Foundation President Lynda Mann and Vice President Allen Cage at the 2013 Challenge at Trump National Golf Club

Anna Mae Hayden, who has served as The YouthQuest Foundation’s events coordinator for six years, is moving on to begin a new career adventure.

If you’ve had any contact with our organization, chances are you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Anna Mae. A tireless networker, Anna Mae seems to know everyone in our community and remember everything about them. The connections she’s made over the years have helped us build a strong core of supporters and partners.

Anna Mae is probably best known for organizing our signature annual fundraiser, The Challenge at Trump National. From contacting volunteers, sponsors and celebrity guests to assembling items for silent auctions, she juggled all sorts of tasks to make the golf tournament bigger and better every year. But her contributions go far beyond that big event. Anna Mae worked behind the scenes year-round to keep everything at our Foundation running smoothly.

Every December, she threw herself into decorating for the Christmas party hosted by AOC Solutions, our upstairs neighbor and a major supporter of YouthQuest. Fortunately, she’s already promised to continue that tradition.

Even though she won’t be here in person, Anna Mae’s legacy remains in the positive impact our Foundation has had on at-risk children and their families. Her work made it possible for us to touch hundreds of lives during her six years at YouthQuest.

Everyone at YouthQuest wishes Anna Mae all the best in her new job at the Hampton Inn and Conference Center in Winchester, Va.

3D-Printed Ornaments Show ThinkLink Students’ Creativity

Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy Cadet Dalonta Crudup

There are some very special ornaments on display this Christmas season in the homes of the teenagers who completed the latest 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes sponsored by The YouthQuest Foundation at Freestate and Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academies.

As a final assignment, YouthQuest Training Director Tom Meeks had the Cadets in the Maryland and District of Columbia ChalleNGe programs use their imaginations to design and fabricate any kind of ornament they could dream up. The idea was to encourage them to be creative and to produce something meaningful they could take home to their families after graduation.

Some of the ornaments are reflections of the changes these at-risk teens have gone through during the 22-week residential programs operated by the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Foundation.

Perhaps the most poignant creation is Capital Guardian Cadet Dalonta Crudup’s ornament.

He wanted to make something that “would just stand out.” His inspiration came from his best friend, Malik Spears – know to all as “Wiz” – who was fatally shot in Northeast DC this summer, just before Dalonta entered the ChalleNGe program.

“This is like a tombstone,” he said, holding the circular object that bears a heartfelt message. “I made this to show appreciation from me to his family.”

“He was like a brother and I was always with him every single day,” Dalonta explained. “It says: Rest in Peace, Wiz. We miss you. We thought of you with love today but that is nothing new. We thought about you yesterday and the days before that too.”

Some of Dalonta’s fellow Cadets from the District of Columbia also knew Wiz.

“It meant a lot to the class,” he said. Although it was “very hard” to complete the project, when his classmates saw what he’d done, they realized they could come up with their own creations, too.

“It was a lot of steps. We had to keep switching it to get it to work,” recalled Dalonta, who plans to study math and business in college and eventually pursue a career in architecture.

In the first version of his design, the raised letters on the ornament were too small so they got “all smooshed up together.” Over three weeks of classes, he kept revising his design until he was satisfied with the results.

The project helped reinforce one of the 3D ThinkLink Initiative’s most important lessons: Make improvements step-by step until you achieve your goal.

When he started the program this summer, Dalonta was “very sad … very frustrated” about the killing of his best friend. Making the memorial ornament helped him get through his grief, he said.

At Capital Guardian’s graduation ceremony this month, Dalonta was honored as the Most Improved Cadet in his class of more than 50.

A Christmas Rose for Grandma

Capital Guardian Cadet Kenneth Cruz holds the rose lantern her created.

Capital Guardian Cadet Kenneth Cruz holds the rose lantern her created.

Capital Guardian Cadet Kenneth Cruz also had someone close to him in mind when he created his design.

The cylindrical ornament has an elaborate rose pattern cut into it, which casts a warm glow when a small light is placed inside. He unveiled the gift for his grandmother on stage at the DC Armory during the Dec. 13 graduation ceremony.

“I made this lantern with a rose on it for her for Christmas, but I guess I’m giving it to her now,” Kenneth announced as the crowd laughed and cheered.

Cadet Gerry Rubi said that of all the projects the 3D ThinkLink class did, making an ornament taught him the most because he was free to create his own design.

Using Moment of Inspiration modeling software, Gerry began with a simple cube. He removed all the corners, added designs to each face, scooped out the top to form a bowl and put a slot in the side for storing keys or other small items. The Cube 3D printer then turned his idea into a unique ornament that’s sure to become a family heirloom.

“It gave me a chance to play around with all the software and all the creativity I can put into it,” he said.

“One of the main things it taught me is there’s a lot of ways to do one thing,” added Gerry, who plans to become a civil engineer and received the top award, Cadet of the Cycle, at Capital Guardian’s graduation.

The 3D-printed rose lantern made by Cadet Kenneth Cruz

The 3D-printed rose lantern made by Cadet Kenneth Cruz

“It’s a wonderful program for the Cadets,” said Keith Hammond, Capital Guardian’s Manager of Information Systems, who helped teach the 3D classes.

“They now know that they are creative,” he continued. “Before this class, they may have had creativity bottled up inside them but because they couldn’t draw, they weren’t labeled an artist, they felt like they couldn’t be creative and they couldn’t identify themselves that way. Now, with this class and with the tools that we’re using, they can be creative and they know they have an outlet for that creativity.”

YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative gives at-risk teens an advantage as they enter a workforce where STEM skills are in high demand. The classes prepare students to successfully compete for a growing array of technology-related jobs that don’t require a college degree or to continue their education in one of the STEM disciplines. In addition, the program builds self-confidence and problem-solving skills that help graduates achieve their goals no matter what career path they choose.

Click here to make a donation or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

VIDEO: 3D ThinkLink Initiative Students Graduate From Youth ChalleNGe Academies

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Class 41 graduates

The Cadets in our 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes have just taken a giant step toward a successful future as they completed the 22-week residential program at Freestate and Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academies.

Eighteen young people were honored at award presentations and graduation ceremonies in Maryland and Washington, DC, last week.

Recognizing that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education is essential in today’s workforce, the YouthQuest Foundation developed the 3D ThinkLink Initiative and teamed up with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, which operates residential academies where dropouts get a second chance to earn a high school degree and prepare for employment or continued education.

Launched at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy early this year and expanded to include the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy this fall, the unique project uses 3D design and printing to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to students who once gave up on school.

Selected Cadets receive 25 hours of training that supplements their regular math and science curriculum. Instructors have found that students in these classes gain confidence and become more engaged in all their other courses. In addition, the Cadets discover that learning to think creatively has benefits beyond the classroom. The skills and values they develop will help them achieve their goals no matter what career path they choose.

Several Cadets from the 3D project received special recognition during their graduation ceremonies. Cadet of the Cycle awards, the highest honor a Cadet can earn, went to Gerry Rubi from Capital Guardian and Jennifer Contreras from Freestate. Capital Guardian’s Dalonta Crudup and Freestate’s Trinisia Reese were named Most Improved Cadets.  Many others received scholarships for their leadership and academic achievements.

In the second phase of the ChalleNGe program, graduates return to their communities to continue their education or begin careers under the guidance of mentors who will serve as their role models, advisers and advocates for a year.

Congratulations to all the graduates!

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Jose Buruca
Dalonta Crudup
Kenneth Cruz
Albert Fuller
TaShawna Richardson
Gerry Rubi
Dejah Stanley
Niema Travers

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy
Jennifer Contreras
Miguel Espinal-Herrera
Jaasiel Headly
Kameron Johnson
Sanfa Kanneh
John Mitchell
Tanae Molden
Trinisia Reese
Terrell Saddler
Christopher Shade

VIDEO: YouthQuest Helps Dropouts Beat the Odds

Every year, more than 1 million teenagers drop out of school

Statistics show the outlook for teenagers who quit school is bleak. The YouthQuest Foundation works to help dropouts break the cycle of failure and get on the path to success.

We provide academic and vocational development, infrastructure support and life-enriching activities for America’s at-risk youth.

  • Every 8 seconds during the school year, a public high school student drops out.*

More than 1 million teens quit school every year. In public schools, per-student spending has doubled since the 1970s, yet the dropout rate has remained around 30%. Among African-Americans and Hispanics, it is closer to 50%.

  • Every 32 seconds, a child is born into poverty.*

Dropouts beget dropouts and poverty feeds this cycle. The poorest teens are six times more likely to quit high school than the richest ones. Children whose parents quit school are at much greater risk than others of becoming dropouts themselves.

  • Every 3 minutes, a child is arrested for a drug offense.  Every 7 minutes, a child is arrested for a violent crime.*

giving support to at-risk teenEvery time a teen drops out, we all pay the price. Dropouts drain public resources because they are much more likely than high school graduates to be unemployed, need government aid, abuse alcohol and drugs and be arrested. At least two-thirds of dropouts spend time in jail. On average, dropouts earn about half as much as graduates, so they contribute less to the economy.

A 2006 study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that most dropouts believe they could have graduated from school under different social or economic circumstances. YouthQuest seeks to create the circumstances these teens need to succeed in a world where demand is growing for workers trained in the skilled trades.

For example, studies predict nearly 80% of future jobs will require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge. Yet most at-risk youth find it difficult to imagine themselves in STEM-related careers due to the lack of role models in their communities, according to the California STEM Learning Network.

3D printing class Cadets work together at Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe AcadaemyIn response, YouthQuest has launched the 3D ThinkLink Initiative, a unique project uses 3D printing to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to students who once gave up on school.

Our goals are to prepare teens for entry-level jobs in the skilled trades, and to instill the life skills and work habits that will help them advance to leadership positions.

We all benefit when dropouts turn their lives around. As they become more self-reliant, these young people have less need for community services, so the burden on taxpayers is lighter. Businesses are able to innovate and grow when they can hire workers who have the latest skills required in their fields. Through mentorship, at-risk youth develop healthy relationships with respected adults in their community and industry.

YouthQuest believes it is our responsibility, individually and as a society, to see that every American child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.

If you would like to support our mission, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

*– Children’s Defense Fund, 2013

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