Pick a color, any color. You know how this game goes. You pick a color, your friend opens and closes the fortune teller, spelling out the name of the color you selected. You pick a number from the visible choices, your friend opens and closes the fortune teller, until you eventually pick a flap that your friend opens to reveal your destiny.

When I was a kid, we wrote stupid fortunes like “Marry a rich husband” and “Have 10 children,” both of which would make me run away screaming. But what if our fortunes had been more like “Graduate with a degree that will earn you $14,000 more than your peers in your first job” or “Land an engineering scholarship”?

Those are the fortunes available today – scratch that – those are the futures readily available today to the young women and men who take part in FIRST®. Ever heard of FIRST? FIRST hosts robotics competitions for kids and creates an inclusive experience where kids of all ability levels learn by doing and have a lot of fun at the same time. In the long run, they are bridging the STEM skill gap.  How cool is that?

So FIRST just completed year 5 of a multi-year study where they tracked their program participants into college and HOLY COW did they find out that these students were doing some cool stuff. FIRST participants are much more likely to land a STEM-related internship than the comparison group (26% vs. 15%) by their sophomore year of college and are more likely to be involved in computer and engineering clubs and competitions in college than their peers. 89% of FIRST alumni declare majors in STEM versus 59% of the comparison group.

Slides designed by FIRST staff based on our template

And they are seeing a pronounced impact on young women. Female alumni are 5.3 times more likely to take computer courses and 3.7 times more likely to take engineering courses in college than their peers. 59% are declaring majors in engineering or computer science versus 12% of comparison group females!  

Naturally, FIRST is really proud of these results and they hired Evergreen Data to help them package up their findings into a slideshow and handouts they could distribute to parents, principals, and coaches. And students? Yeah, no. Sitting seventh graders down for a slideshow on the likelihood of landing a tech-related summer job is not going to get them excited to stay after school and build robots. We needed a different way of reaching the students. So we made them FIRST Future Tellers. FUN!

Each potential future came right from the data in the study.

The Future Teller, by nature, must be made from a square so we used the rest of the real estate on the page to talk a little about FIRST and provide some directions.

Sometimes physical objects are the most effective way to engage key audiences with your data.

A FIRST staffer has already been putting this into practice:

“I used the FIRST Future Teller as a warm-up activity with students, parents, and team mentors before starting a presentation reviewing the key study findings. The audience partnered up to play with the future tellers and the energy level in the room grew significantly. I think many of the audience were more interested in the presentation as a result. It was a fun way to present findings. One mentor asked if he could bring the future teller back to his classroom to use with middle school students!”

Customize your own Future Teller here.

Just download the file, write in your own futures, print, and play with data.

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