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Kits Cubed Helps Kids Explore Science In A Fun, Hands-On Way

Ahmed Muhammad loves science — and he believes kids should, too. In 2021, he graduated as the first black male valedictorian of Oakland Technical High School. His graduation speech went viral thanks to a boost from California Gov. Gavin Newsome, and he has since enrolled at Stanford. 

But before he even finished high school, he started the nonprofit Kits Cubed in 2020, providing science kits to elementary school students with one goal: getting younger students passionate about science.

“I started Kits Cubed early on in the pandemic when I was babysitting my younger niece and nephew,” Muhammad told Garden & Health. “To keep them entertained, I asked them if they wanted to conduct some science experiments. [They] rejected my idea because they ‘hate science.’”

“This was really sad to hear because, at such a young age, my niece and nephew had already lost their confidence in science,” he continued.

“I wanted to show them that they can have fun being scientists, so I created experiments with stuff we could find around the house.” 

Accessible ingredients weren’t the only thing Muhammad made sure to include. He also ensured that fun was part of the activities.

“We made pop rockets out of Alka-Seltzer and old film canisters, studied plants and animals from the backyard, and made batteries out of potatoes and old parts from past projects of mine,” he said. “My niece and nephew absolutely loved the experiments, and their excitement is what inspired me to start Kits Cubed. I want every child to have the opportunity to fall in love with science in a fun, hands-on way.”

Photo Courtesy Kits Cubed

Kits Cubed now goes to schools all over Oakland, hosting STEM fairs and teaching kindergarten through fifth-grade students about science using kits composed of household items such as rubber bands, paper clips, and batteries. Each includes various short- and long-term science experiments, many of which build off each other. 

For Muhammad, it’s critical that kids get interested in science at a young age.

Photo Courtesy Kits Cubed

“The reluctance towards science that my niece and nephew felt is, unfortunately, a very common story,” he said. “Had they not had the opportunity to experience science, their reluctance most likely would have solidified into rejection.”

“It’s important that kids get interested in science from a young age so that, instead of reluctance and unfamiliarity, they can see themselves as scientists, and we’ll have more young scientists reaching for their scientific dreams as they get older,” Muhammad continued.

“Our next Albert Einsteins and Alice Balls around the world are waiting for their inner scientist to be unlocked.”

According to the Kits Cubed website, the nonprofit has given more than 40,000 kits and visited more than 5,000 students in the Oakland Unified School District. The organization also offers an array of community-focused activities such as summer camps, internships for high school students, and in-person science teaching. And Muhammad is as engaged today as he was at the beginning.

Photo Courtesy Kits Cubed

“My favorite thing to do is go into a classroom and teach science to young, bright minds and play a positive role in their scientific journey,” he added. “My favorite kit is the Potato Battery kit because it is the first one I ever did with my niece and nephew. When kids conduct the experiment for the first time, you can see their eyes light up along with their potato-powered LEDs.”

As Kits Cubed continues to reach more and more students with simple, a-ha-moment-focused science fun, Muhammad is hopeful that more and more will choose STEM careers.

Photo Courtesy Kits Cubed

“I hope that kids will learn that science is all around them and that anyone can be a scientist,” he said. “Without being exposed to science, the field can seem out of reach for many. However, our hope with our science curriculum and programming is to rewrite this narrative. We are all scientists, whether we know it yet or not.”

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