Joy Agrawal, a 17-year-old from Nagpur, is making waves with his initiative, Project Gyan, which aims to provide practical STEM education to underprivileged children. Recognized on the prestigious Diana Award 2023 winners list, Joy is passionate about revolutionizing the world through space technology, global education, and global studies. For him, the Diana Award is not just validation but also a motivation to find innovative solutions through space technology, engineering, and policy.
The Genesis of Project Gyan
At the age of 13, while sitting for the Homi Bhaba exam in 2019, Joy had a profound realization. He understood the stark contrast between his access to resources and the lack of practical labs for underprivileged students. This insight kept him awake for weeks, prompting him to create Project Gyan in 2020. The initiative’s primary focus is to provide quality STEM education to young minds, emphasizing practical and application-based learning for underprivileged children.
Transforming Project Gyan: A Decentralized STEM Exploratory
In the past year, Project Gyan underwent a restructuring, becoming the world’s first decentralized STEM and entrepreneurship exploratory. Joy’s vision is to create a lab where students can explore a wide range of subjects freely. To achieve this, he collaborated with Padma Shri Dr. Prakash Amte’s Lok Biradri Prakalp and Bridge The Gap Foundation to conduct workshops and unconventional experiments for rural and tribal children.
The Impact on Entrepreneurship
Alongside STEM education, Project Gyan expanded its mission to empower rural and tribal elders in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh through practical entrepreneurial education, transforming them into nano-entrepreneurs. By teaching sellable skills like painting, pottery, clay art, and candle making, the initiative helps them create and sell products, enabling them to earn a livelihood.
Creating Space Tech Enthusiasts
Joy’s love for space technology began when his parents gifted him a telescope. Mesmerized by the outer world, he spent hours gazing at stars and asteroids. During the lockdown, the clear sky reignited his passion, leading him to discover two asteroids in 2021 as part of the Spaceport India Asteroid Search Campaign in collaboration with Hardin-Simmons University Texas.
Social Impact through STEM
Joy’s journey in technology and social change started with a robotics course that fueled his passion for using science to make a difference. Recognized by Peace First for his project grant, he utilized the $250 prize to start Project Gyan during the pandemic. Through live virtual workshops, he began providing underprivileged students with hands-on science experience, expanding the initiative to several schools in Nagpur and tribal schools in Maharashtra.
A Holistic Approach to Education
Project Gyan’s evolution turned it into a year-long curriculum encompassing STEM education and entrepreneurship. Joy’s motivation to give back to society, instilled by his mother’s altruism, prompted him to bridge the gap between opportunities for the privileged and underprivileged. The initiative is deeply personal to him, as it is named after his grandmother.
Future Aspirations and Advice to Youth
With plans to pursue a double major in computer science and international relations or public policy from the Ivy Leagues, Joy dreams of working with the UN and eventually launching his own space tech startup. As a young changemaker, he encourages fellow youth to explore their passions, embrace their uniqueness, and make a difference by following their own paths.