Category: Skills for Innovation.
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I believe a two-pronged approach is essential to enhance STEM skills, encompassing involvement from students all the way up to CEO’s. It is critical to develop STEM education and encourage the use of STEM skills from all facets of the community.
The first prong is empowering the students. It is imperative to have a culture within schools strongly focused on mathematics and science based education. Preston Middle School in Colorado has implemented a “no student gets left behind” maths and science program and constantly promotes science based extra-curricular activities that include a science Olympiad.
Showing children of all ages that never before has there been as great an opportunity to access the technology that we are surrounded by is a positive way for them to begin to get involved in the shaping of the future of technology.
Balancing the theoretical and the practical aspects of science, technology and engineering is key to showing them that science can be fun, engaging and entertaining. Utilizing tools such as Code Academy, 3D printers, squishy circuits and LEGO robotics will be crucial. If Hans Rosling can make statistics engaging, stimulating interest in STEM fields should not be difficult.
The second prong is a company’s social responsibility to educate the educators. Not all teachers have industrial experience and will therefore require assistance in translating what they are teaching, particularly in practical science and mathematics, into being relevant to the world. What is required is a holistic view of why STEM is important. Most of us realize intrinsically why medicine is important or have a general idea of what an accountant does. This is not as obvious for engineers, computer scientists or applied scientists. Companies need to open their doors for tours, workshops, seminars and fairs to raise awareness of what opportunities are available and how what the company does affects the community.
Once there is a woven relationship between students, teachers and STEM related companies enticing anyone into energy related fields shouldn’t be a problem. As large popular technology companies, like Google and facebook, are publicly making huge investments in energy, there is no better time to get involved at the front end of those developments. When the scale and impact, be it social, political or environmental, of major energy infrastructure projects is publicized more people can understand how important it is to be involved in the energy sector. Illustrating how sustainability is a key focus for prosperity in the developed and the developing world will be important. Showing others that through STEM involvement groups are providing irrigation solutions to farmers, safe cooking stove shelter modifications to women and providing sustainable energy solutions for schools in developing countries will bolster interest in the subject. Doesn’t everyone want to be a part of that?