My name is Danielle Boyer and a young robotics inventor, educator, and activist who is working to increase technical educational accessibility for youth like me.
A little bit about me and my nonprofit, The STEAM Connection.
Miigwech (thank you) to everyone who has provided me the opportunity to continue to reach more youth.
Verizon x Clinton Foundation Social Innovation Challenge Winner
For the invention of biodegradable plastic replacement for robots.
MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellow
For Every Kid Gets a Robot.
L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth
For the founding and operation of the nonprofit, The STEAM Connection.
Featured in the NBC Women of Worth TV Special
Watch now on Peacock TV or Hulu.
2020 PEOPLE's Girls Changing the World
For robotics educational activism.
AISES Winds of Change Spring Cover Story
American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
Brower Youth Award Winner
For innovative environmental activism using robots. By Earth Island Institute.
I am a young Indigenous (Ojibwe) and Queer woman who is recognized for my work as a robotics inventor, author, activist, and educator. For over ten years now, I've been working to make key educational opportunities accessible. After witnessing how disparities between people of different socioeconomic statuses in access to quality technical education affect children, I sought to transform my own community by increasing technical education accessibility and affordability for young children. I do this through innovative learning solutions that utilize robotics to promote technical competency, garner interest in STEAM careers, and equip future generations of innovators with a unique and diverse skillset. This goal has driven me to found my own educational nonprofit called The STEAM Connection. I've gone on to reach hundreds of thousands of youth with my educational resources and I am only getting started.
Building robots with my mentee.
I got my start in science and technical education when I was ten years old while being homeschooled in my hometown of Troy, MI. There weren't many technical educational opportunities through my homeschool group, which was much like a private school, and I saw in my own family how my little sister wasn't able to access key learning opportunities. So, I sought for a solution. Not knowing where to start, I eventually saw animal puppets at the store and it sparked an idea to teach an animal science class. I ended up teaching a semester-long kindergarten class and found my love for teaching. This was the first class of many, and it opened my eyes to how inaccessible technical education was for so many youths. I saw how some kids were able to excel far beyond others, and it was rooted in accessibility and representation.
Teaching my first class at age 10.
After being homeschooled for most of my life, I decided to pursue a future at my local public high school. I was so excited to begin learning in earnest alongside my peers and to also to join the school robotics team. While I spent most of my time helping local community robotics teams, designing robots with local youth, and volunteering, I also was faced with much adversity for my pursuit of robotics. I wasn't welcome as a girl interested in engineering and faced harassment. It nearly made me stop pursuing robotics altogether, but my community pushed me to keep doing what I loved. I left my school's robotics team and joined another. It was still a really difficult experience, and I was the only girl who was an upperclassman. I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I loved my students, my community, and robotics. So, I kept going. When I was 17, I started 23 community programs to benefit my county. I volunteered for OCCRA (Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association) as their then youngest judge and event coordinator. I ran tutoring programs, classes, STEM events, and opportunities for parents to connect through a newsletter and groupchats. This was also when I started 30 robotics team to better serve my students and community. I still mentor my teams and work alongside my community every single day. My journey in engineering hasn't been easy, but my community keeps me coming back. The students are worth it and so many of them have had similar experiences to me. By sharing my experiences and story, I want that girl who has been through what I have been through to not feel alone. You deserve to do what you love.
Putting on my first STEM camp.
Students from my tutoring program, Benzene Buddies.
Picking Up Speed
It was at the FIRST Detroit World Championship in 2018 right before I graduated from highschool that I was first discovered for my community efforts. I was standing at the front of our team booth when I was approached by Dassault Systemes (SOLIDWORKS), a design corporation. I told them about my robots and work and was featured on their Instagram story. They handed me a business card and told me to reach out. A few months later, I was featured in their Women in Engineering campaign. After that, I gave my very first keynote at their headquarters in Boston. Their confidence in me helped me build the confidence in myself that I hadn't seen before. Confidence that was hard to come by when I felt like an alien on my own robotics team. After graduating, I continued to build my experience in robotics and in mentoring local youth. At the beginning of 2019, I released EKGAR, five STEAM children's books, and founded my nonprofit. I created my nonprofit, The STEAM Connection, so that other youths like me wouldn't have to experience the same things that I have in robotics. Every child deserves to know that they belong. That year, I started bringing my robots to community events like the Detroit Maker Faire and started teaching classes. I made hundreds of robots and was recognized for my efforts by Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the Governor's Service Awards as Youth Volunteer of the Year. I was nominated by my then student and now Resource Manager, Dakshesh Daruri. I also got my very own space to call home for The STEAM Connection and opened our headquarters to begin teaching classes.
Before the pandemic in 2020, I taught twenty local STEM classes. While teaching those classes, I was preparing the largest amount of robots I'd ever made: 150! I was creating the robots for 3DEXPERIENCE For Good at 3DEXPERIENCE World, a conference that I was also a headliner at alongside Dean Kamen. The event enabled attendees to assemble robotics kits for youths across the United States, and 50% of the robots went to Indigenous youths. When the pandemic hit, I had just gotten home from month-long travels where I was doing outreach, robotics events, and even filming a video with 3D Printing Nerd! Through the pandemic, I continued my studies, started shipping robots out individually, and began teaching virtually. It was a very difficult transition, but we saw many beautiful moments. Moments like founding the Hands-On Techie Talks Podcast with my mentee, Vinaya Gunasekar. I also started a fellowship at the University of Vermont in neurodevelopmental disabilities under my mentor Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank to become a better educator. Together, we raised over $40,000 dollars to bring books to Native youth with the help of many remarkable community members. I released my open-source robot Twenty. I ended up winning the L'Oreal Women of Worth Award and donating my $10,000 dollar award funding to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, was named one of PEOPLE's Girls Changing the World, was featured in the NBC Special Women of Worth, and much more.
150 EKGAR robots at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020.
My 2021 so far has been filled with invention, entrepreneurship, and storytelling. I graduated from my fellowship with over 200 overs put into the program. I believe in building nonprofits to last, so much of my year has been spent building up The STEAM Connection and our initiatives. We've been working on an EKGAR Entrepreneurship Network, Girls Engineering League, and so much more. I am so looking forward to the future. I've also been fortunate to tell my story and share stages alongside people like Bill Gates and Dr. Jane Goodall. I've been able to speak at a UN initiative, for the Usher Foundation and the Captain Planet Foundation. Right now, I am working on my latest invention EKGAR: BioBotz, helping me eliminate the plastic from my robots. I am also working on a new and exciting storytelling project that I can't wait to share more about.