Societies get the best of what they celebrate.
The first time I heard Dr. Woodie Flowers say that, it fed my passion to introduce young people to STEM.
Dr. Flowers and Dean Kamen cofounded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and now they want to make a career in STEM as exciting, recognized and appreciated as a career in sports.
A study by researchers at Brandeis University found that students who took part in FIRST events were 50% more likely to go to college, and that girls who took part were four times more likely to pursue technology or engineering majors.
It’s this type of competition that builds the skills that prepare students for a productive career – and unlike sports, every child can expect to turn pro.
STEM education emphasizes problem solving – and FIRST competitions encourage learning that leads to meaningful careers and solutions to world problems.
Think about that. Instead of a star on the court, we can help kids turn pro in a job that definitely will change the world.
Merging Invention and Production
The future is extremely bright for kids in STEM because new, exciting jobs are created every day.
Kamen initiated the Manufacturing USA initiative Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI). We’ve committed $10 million to ARMI to develop ways to scale up production of new technologies to produce tissues, such as growing artificial skin for grafts.
We are the production partner that will help provide artificially produced tissues and even whole organs to people with serious injuries or disease. We are hiring our first bio fabrication application engineer.
We are changing lives.
Making STEM Stick
What this partnership says to me is, anything (and everything) is possible. Our challenge is making STEM accessible and exciting for young people – especially those who don’t see the relationship between STEM and everyday life.
We do a disservice to learners when we tell them to plug in numbers in an equation, but don’t provide a real-world example of how math works. That equation is more than numbers; it’s a way to accomplish something you care about.
When I talk to classrooms, I write a random equation without an answer and ask the kids to figure it out. They start to guess; they look confused.
Then I explain that the answer doesn’t matter; it’s what you’re trying to do that makes a difference. Maybe that’s make a faster car, a better cookie or a stronger house. Whatever you want to do: STEM is behind it.
The best way to help kids see the fun in STEM is by getting involved in activities that celebrate it. That could be FIRST. It can also be online STEM games (here’s a great resource) and math activities (from our partner ST Math).
Join me and be a game changer. You might just save a life.