Rockets and the moon: launching talent and fostering life skills through STEM

— via Opportunity Miami

Brandon Okpalobi ripped apart his Nintendo at a young age to understand how it worked. “My parents were beyond upset, but that started my tinkering at a very young age. And then I started to look at different things in science,” said Okpalobi, a Nigerian-American entrepreneur and former University of Miami college basketball player. “I think that we’ve put science in a box, and sometimes we don’t understand that science is in everything.”

Okpalobi is changing that for the next generation.

After graduating from UM with a degree in Computer Information Systems, he merged his passions for sports and science into several companies and nonprofits (DIBIA Athletic Development, DIBIA Dream, Inc.) that engage underserved students through after-school programs, summer camps, and hands-on workshops that foster life skills development through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

“That’s how you start to build the ideas and the change that we want to see,” he said. “Science is in everything that we do. So it was really about having fun.”

The programs also expose children to different career paths. “That’s what we’re trying to do: Make sure kids see the fun in science and say, okay, I can be a personal trainer or a physical therapist, or I can be a doctor. Or as you see, the Golden State Warriors now, they use basketball analytics to see how they’re going to win games…You can do anything with science.”
Dibia DREAM launched in 2014 and has since engaged over 20,000 children across 32 states and 12 countries. Okpalobi is also a STEM host on Discovery Education for kids and launched Siyanse, a home-delivery STEM kit for kids.

“We’re excited to change the name of science and really have people excited about science going forward,” he said.