STEM Punks lead the way in real-world problem-solving

Published 11:00am 6 September 2020

STEM Punks lead the way in real-world problem-solving
Words by Jodie Powell

A nimble response to the COVID-19 pandemic has earnt Samford mum Fiona Holmstrom a place as a finalist in the AusMumpreneur Awards.

Fiona says the business she and husband Michael started in their garage wasn’t prepared for the pandemic, but the past few months have taken STEM Punks from its humble beginnings to a global audience.

Inspiring innovation

STEM Punks was created to provide kids and adults with a mindset of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to enable them to solve the problems of tomorrow today.

“There was a need to bridge the gap between ideas and valuable outcomes, and to give students and ability to apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in real world problem-solving,” Fiona says.

Rise to the challenge

“We were a face-to-face business this time last year and all of our business was in schools.

“When COVID hit, eight months of forecast revenue disappeared overnight.”

Used to pivoting to keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology, Fiona says the STEM Punks team rose to the latest challenge.

“We transferred all of our content online and started doing livestreams. We had to convert teachers to TV presenters,” she explains.

“We tapped into a market we hadn’t explored before and now we’re connected globally.

Going global

“We’re a little garage-based start-up that’s gone global.”

“Previously, with the face-to-face model we were one-to-one. Now we are one to many, which makes it very cost effective for schools, who don’t have to pay travel costs.”

Fiona is a finalist in the Digital Innovation, Making a Difference (education) and Rising Star categories of the AusMumpreneur Awards, presented by The Women’s Business School.

Reaching girls

Fiona is particularly proud of the business’s work with girls in STEM, and that it now has NASA astronaut Dr Michaela Musilova, who is the director of the HI-SEAS Moon Base in Hawaii, on its board of directors.

“We know from research that girls are just as interested as boys are in primary school, but it seems to wane in high school.

“We are hoping that by implementing it earlier, girls will stay with it.”

New ways to connect

In the past few months, STEM Punks launched a YouTube channel, an online store and a magazine.

“We’ve created different revenue streams,” Fiona says.

“It’s presented some challenges, but also some great opportunities.”

It took STEM Punks three years to amass 3000 Facebook likes, but within months of COVID they had reached 12,000 and now have almost 16,000.

Fiona says STEM Punks launched free broadcasts to give back to the local community, and people still subscribe to the free content, but there are also now thousands of paying subscribers.

“We’re making sure STEM is accessible to everyone so it’s not just for elite students or wealthy students,” she says.

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