Two scientists having a coffee break in a pharmacy lab. Scientist in protective work wear having … [+]
As a nation, we have a unique opportunity with a new administration leading our country to – once and for all – begin addressing opportunities for the next generation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the great need for world problem-solvers – people who understand and embrace science for solving and anticipating our world’s greatest challenges.
The pandemic has also surfaced long-standing and systemic racial inequities that must be dislodged.
We must continue to bring more diversity and inclusion into various STEM fields!
A recently released report by TIES and the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, offers a starting roadmap for the new administration and also for states and individual regions for how STEM can be best supported and leveraged to improve our world and the lives of those who will one day be leading it.
The report, which offers five recommendations for improving STEM learning for all, is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a lot of work that needs to happen.
Moving the Conversation Forward
The recommendations in “Restoring America’s Position as a World Leader by Reinvesting in STEM” are to:
The recommendations are based on thoughts from Ecosystem leaders from across the country as well as families, educators, leaders from business and industry and others.
“We are delighted with the large number of responses and the thoughtful nature of all of them,” said Jan Morrison, founder of TIES. “We are seeing people’s deep commitment to science and their hope for STEM for all.”
Getting it Done
As the leader of STEM NOLA, a member of the 94-community STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, I was proud to contribute to this report and excited to share our work in STEM NOLA as a possible model for other communities.
We are introducing STEM to students and their families who are considered “underserved” and who usually have little or no knowledge of STEM or the many careers that encompass it.
Each week, hundreds of students show up for our hands-on, interactive sessions to learn about everything from launching rockets to melting ice. We’ve served more than 60,000 K-12 students, including many of college students as interns who are pursuing STEM careers.
And we’ve built a network of community partners who are all committed to improving STEM opportunities for all, especially those who have long been marginalized. Our partners include a large health care system, publicly traded utility company, small grocery store owners, architects, accountants, artists, teachers, professors and dozens of others.
Dr. Calvin Mackie with young scholars after a STEM NOLA event.
We’re working on the other recommendations in the report and it will take some time before we can say that we’ve arrived. But one thing is certain: At STEM NOLA, we will never quit.
We are committed, passionate and planned. We understand the power of STEM to transform our community and the lives of those with whom we share this planet.
6th Grade Girls in Technology Class, Wellsville, New York, USA. (Photo by: Education … [+]
STEM NOLA is not alone. Other members of the highly engaged STEM Learning Ecosystems are also making great strides in engaging their communities.
Consider the work of the North Country STEM Network in a rural part of upstate New York. At the height of the pandemic in early 2020, local librarians and school district leaders within the Ecosystem leveraged existing 3-D printers and other school materials to develop PPE equipment that was in short supply and high demand throughout the nation.
Thanks to existing partnerships and resources secured through on-going Ecosystem collaborations in the North Country, the Ecosystem was able to quickly respond to a crisis. That is the power of STEM Ecosystems.
In early March 2020 when students in Cleveland were not attending class because they were going out to find jobs to help support their families and when businesses there were suffering because they had no online presence, the NeoSTEM Ecosystem stepped up. The NeoSTEM Ecosystem launched Wir’ED, a program that pays students to support business owners to create or improve their online presence.
Let’s Change the Narrative!
I offer these examples out of a desire to illustrate that this work is possible. It is possible to achieve the recommendations in the report. It is possible to change the trajectory for students and entire communities.
It requires some vision, some guidance, some commitment, some passion and most of all, it requires a fundamental belief in the power of STEM.
We have that at STEM NOLA and at many of the ecosystems affiliated with the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice and are eager to share it and our work with anyone interested in learning.
I founded a non-profit organization, STEM NOLA, to expose, inspire and engage communities about the opportunities in STEM. Since 2013, STEM NOLA has engaged over 40,000