Tech

Justin ‘Mr. Fascinate’ Shaifer Encourages Kids to Study STEM

STEM is dope. That’s the simple message that Justin “Mr. Fascinate” Shaifer evangelizes to young people around the world.

Through social media and other platforms, Shaifer fascinates children with STEM projects — including those that can be created using AI with NVIDIA Jetson products — in hopes that more students from underrepresented groups will be inspired to dive into the field. NVIDIA Jetson embedded systems allow anyone to create their own AI-based projects.

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Shaifer didn’t know anyone with a career in STEM he could look up to — at least no one he could relate to. Now, he’s become that role model for thousands of kids, working to prove that STEM is cool and attainable for anyone who has a passion for it.

About the Maker

Shaifer is a STEM advocate, animator and TV host who educates students about the importance of STEM and diversity within it. He has a YouTube channel, gives keynote speeches and hosts the Escape Lab live science show on Twitch.

He’s also the founder of Fascinate Inc., a nonprofit with the mission of exciting underrepresented students about careers in STEM and providing schools and after-school programs with fun science curricula.

The organization also launched the Magic Cool Bus project, filling a real-life bus with cutting-edge tech gadgets and bringing it to schools so students can hop on board and explore.

Growing up in a single-parent home, Shaifer was fascinated by science, earning scholarships from NASA and NOAA that covered his expenses to study marine and environmental science at Hampton University. He’s currently working toward a Ph.D. in science education at Columbia University.

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His Inspiration

Shaifer was inspired to transition from being a scientist in a lab to a science educator for others in 2017, while volunteering at a museum in Washington.

“I was freestyle rapping about a carbon cycle exhibit, and this nine-year-old Black kid came up to me and said, ‘What do you do, man?’” said Shaifer.

When Shaifer told him he was a scientist, the child said, “That’s so cool. When I grow up, I want to be a scientist just like you!”

“That made me reflect on the fact that at nine years old, I’d never seen an example of a scientist that looked like me,” said Shaifer. “I realized that students need to be exposed to a role model in STEM that they can identify with, at scale.”

Later that year, Shaifer founded Fascinate Inc.

His Favorite Jetson Projects

Shaifer is passionate about exposing students to the world of AI, and he says using NVIDIA Jetson platform is a great way to do so.

Watch him highlight Jetson products:

NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX Unboxing and Impression

NVIDIA SparkFun JetBot AI Kit Unboxing and Impression

One of Shaifer’s favorite real-world applications that uses the NVIDIA Jetson Nano developer kit is Qrio. The bot, created by Agustinus Nalwan, recognizes a toddler’s toy and plays a relevant YouTube video.

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“Especially since I work with young kids, I think that’s a really cool application that allows a child to be engaged, interactive and always learning as they play with their toys,” said Shaifer.

Where to Learn More 

Get fascinated by STEM on Shaifer’s website and YouTube channel.

Discover tools, inspiration and three easy steps to help kickstart your project with AI on our “Get AI, Learn AI, Build AI” page.

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