What inspired you to create your nonprofit Fascinate Inc.?
I had a moment with a kid when I was volunteering at a museum. This young 9-year-old Black kid said, “Yo, man, what do you do?” and I was like, “I’m a scientist, man.” He said, ” I want to be a scientist like you when I grow up,” and he shakes my hand. I never saw anything like this when I was a kid, so I thought how can I scale this up. Four years after that moment, we have a bunch of projects that we’re doing where we’re reaching kids at scale.
What message do you have for kids about how STEM can change their lives?
The cool thing is that if you have internet. This information is at your fingertips. You can learn to code for free online right now. When I’m speaking at schools, I tell them STEM careers are the highest-paying jobs. The average person who gets into college and goes into a STEM career makes almost double what the average household income is in America. The stereotype about STEM people is we’re humble, we’re introverts, we don’t talk, we research and we don’t flex. What I realized is that someone needs to glamorize that for these kids, and that’s why I created Mr. Fascinate.
Check out Shaifer’s “Live Cartoon Show!” at www.livecartoonshow.com and view a clip of Mr. Fascinate on his Instagram page below.