Youth-led Nonprofit, The Helyx Initiative, Provides Free Science Education to Thousands
The Helyx Initiative, a nonprofit founded in 2019 by high school student Andrew Gao, offers many free science opportunities, such as webinars and research workshops.
San Diego, CA (PRUnderground) February 22nd, 2021
As schools shut down due to COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, concerns over unequal access to education arose. To address this, The Helyx Initiative, a high school student-run nonprofit founded in 2019, launched various free online programs to provide accessible science and research opportunities for youth.
“I originally intended Helyx to be a school club that exposed aspiring young scientists to many science subjects by bringing in guest speakers and conducting lab demos and workshops. I wanted to provide free opportunities for kids to get involved with science and research,” said Andrew Gao, a high school junior and the organization’s founder and CEO. “Of course, the pandemic threw a wrench in our plans, so we needed to adapt.”
Andrew and the other board members decided to tackle this challenge head-on, using various web technologies and services to switch to providing online events and programs. “The pandemic has and continues to take a toll on families around the globe, but we saw the transition to a virtual format as an opportunity to reach people we previously couldn’t,” said Sid Udata, junior and Chief Marketing Officer.
“Our mission has always been to spread science education to anyone who wants it, and what better way to accomplish that goal than to offer it free of cost and online?” added Sarah Gao, Director of Events.
Some examples of these online events include the International Youth Research Summit, a weekend-long conference for teens organized by Sarah, and a series of bioinformatics research workshops. These workshops covered topics such as gene expression analysis, machine learning applications to healthcare, and DNA sequence analysis. Mason Holmes, Chief Education Development Officer, stated that “Helyx takes pride in providing quality lessons and materials, so students leave our events feeling satisfied and excited.”
The Helyx Initiative has also hosted several science-themed hackathons (online coding competitions). “We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm around our first hackathon, Helyx Hacks I, in which we had around 300 registered attendees and received many amazing projects,” said Yash Gupta, Chief Technology Officer. According to William Kang, Chief Information Officer, that enthusiasm led Helyx to host Helyx Hacks II in December 2020. William mentioned that over $130,000 in prizes were available, and nearly 700 students registered to compete.
Outside of online events, The Helyx Initiative also creates free courses, provides tutoring, and even has an active science blog, run by Joanne Lee, Editor in Chief, who said that the blog was an excellent way for students to practice scientific writing and communication.
The Helyx Initiative is planning several upcoming events, notably the International Youth Research Summit II and Helyx Hacks III. Director of Design Meryl Liu notes that any interested youth should follow The Helyx Initiative on social media for updates.
“Any young person with interest in science or research should definitely check us out! We would love to have you join our community of 3,200 youth,” affirms Chris Jung, Chief Administrative Officer.
Learn more about The Helyx Initiative at their website: https://www.helyx.science/
About The Helyx Initiative
The Helyx Initiative provides free science and research opportunities to youth worldwide.