About

OUR Mission
Eradicating STEM Deserts. OASIS is an acronym that describes our mission- Opening Access to STEAM in Informal Settings. Our goal is to leverage technology and logistics to change the economics of providing high-quality, hands-on STEAM experiences so that children everywhere can have access. We've developed content that inspires youth and develops their spatial intelligence, collaboration skills, and problem-solving ability while engaging their sense of play.

OUR STATS

From the beginning our goal has been to inspire, educate, and empower. Here are some early stats on how we're growing:
1.5K

YOUTH SERVED

$180K+

GRANTS AWARDED

200

HOURS OF CURRICULUM

and we're just getting started!

OUR IMPACT

What are the reasons learners love our labs? They have been designed to be engaging and to meet youth where their interests already lie. 
Labs are Fun
42%
Like Science/Engineering/Technology
20%
Like to Build Things
12%
Like STEAM/Programming/Coding/Robots/Drones
15%
Other Reasons
9%
** Source: Lifelong Learning Group, Center for Research and Evaluation
OUR HISTORY
Our story begins in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when VHS tapes reigned supreme. Once school closed for the day, Maurice raced home to enjoy bootleg recordings of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Transformers with his father. It was in this “informal after-school setting” that Maurice discovered how engineering and technology could be used to drive the future. Maurice’s father used the characters, setting, and plot lines in these sci-fi stories to draw connections to the real world and more importantly, to show Maurice that he, too, could become an engineer. Along with his father, Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) in Star Trek and Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) in Moving became his childhood heroes.

For these reasons, Maurice has devoted the last several years to helping young people develop that same passion and inspiration around all things STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Maurice’s pay-it-forward attitude began while teaching introductory engineering classes at Columbus State Community College in 2013. During this time, he noticed a disturbing pattern amongst his mostly twenty-something year-old students where many of them lacked one of the most fundamental skills of engineering--spatial intelligence. To strengthen this skill, Maurice mimicked the same approach as his father--to connect fictional characters like Iron Man to the engineering concepts he needed to teach, which included the engineering design process, blueprint reading, and 3D modeling.

SIMPLR (which stood for sci-fi, imagination, making, pepakura, literacy, and rubik’s cube) was born shortly after and Maurice began bringing this same methodology to high school students in the form of four-hour labs (sessions). Maurice taught youth how to program R2D2-style robots, build lightsabers, fly drones, and more. Maurice soon discovered, however, that high school was even too late--that kids’ spatial intelligence needed to be developed much earlier. Therefore, in 2016, SIMPLR switched its focus to youth in grades K-8, and particularly those in underserved communities. It was also around this time that Erica went from full-time assistant professor at Otterbein University to full-time manager for SIMPLR. Erica’s background included English/literacy education, African American studies, and women’s studies, therefore, in this new role, Erica brought her extensive education to bear in continuing to create high-quality, standards-based, equity-oriented STEAM curricula.
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OUR LEADERSHIP

Passionate educators working to develop a new STEAM education framework.

Maurice Womack

Engineer, Educator, Entrepreneur
Maurice Womack has over 15 years experience as a mechanical engineer. Maurice has held positions at Battelle, the Defense Logistics Agency, and MS Consultants. While at Battelle, his role as a research engineer afforded him the opportunity to design and develop advanced energetic systems and security technology for many agencies within the U.S. Department of Defense. Currently, Maurice is a lead engineer for the Defense Logistics Agency. He was also an adjunct instructor of Engineering Technology at Columbus State Community College (CSCC). His position at CSCC gave him great insight into student interest in engineering and he has implemented several SIMPLR® lessons in his classroom with great success. 

Maurice has had a passion for engineering and technology since he was a child in Youngstown, OH. He was exposed, at a young age, to great science fiction series such as Star Trek® and Star Wars® and they inspired him to dream of creating the future. Maurice became interested in robotics by watching Transformers, GoBots, and Voltron; therefore, he understands the need to utilize Sci-Fi-Com to attract, inform, and inspire kids to imagine the future and to instill, in them, a passion for STEAM.

Dr. Erica Womack

Educator, Literacy Specialist
Erica is currently the general manager of The SIMPLR STEAM Playground. For four years, Erica worked as an Assistant Professor at Otterbein University where she taught language arts methods and literacy education courses to pre-service. In 2013, Erica earned her Ph.D. in Education from The Ohio State University while specializing in adolescent literacies, content area literacies, critical pedagogy, and urban education. Prior to entering the doctoral program, Erica worked as a high school English Language Arts teacher for five years and as a Specific Learning Disabilities tutor for one year in the Columbus City Schools district. 

Erica has worked with students at every secondary grade level (9-12) and has taught courses that include American Literature, British Literature, World Humanities, and Advanced Placement English Language and Composition.
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