Fos­ter­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Sci­en­tists and In­no­va­tors

Family Circle - - HEALTH & WELLNESS - By Marti Skold-jor­dan – Man­ager of Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ships, GSK

De­vel­op­ing a science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math (Stem)-ed­u­cated work­force is a na­tional pri­or­ity, and a strong pipe­line of Stem-ed­u­cated stu­dents is crit­i­cal to our eco­nomic suc­cess. Em­ploy­ment in STEM oc­cu­pa­tions has grown much faster than em­ploy­ment in NON-STEM oc­cu­pa­tions over the past decade, and STEM work­ers com­mand higher wages. Th­ese trends are pro­jected to con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture, cre­at­ing enor­mous op­por­tu­ni­ties for today’s school-aged chil­dren.

We know that en­gag­ing stu­dents early on in STEM is how we foster the next gen­er­a­tion of sci­en­tists and in­no­va­tors, and how we pre­pare stu­dents for life­long suc­cess. How­ever, most STEM pro­grams tar­get high school and col­lege stu­dents – and un­for­tu­nately, many stu­dents lose in­ter­est in STEM sub­jects long be­fore they reach those ages. Ac­cord­ing to one study, by eighth grade, nearly half of stu­dents lose in­ter­est or have deemed STEM fields ir­rel­e­vant to their fu­tures. Chil­dren in ru­ral ar­eas and from lower-in­come house­holds are less likely to be en­gaged in STEM learn­ing, par­tic­u­larly when school is out of ses­sion. Stan­ford econ­o­mist Raj Chetty refers to th­ese stu­dents as “Lost Ein­steins.” For more than 30 years, GSK – a science-led global health­care com­pany – has part­nered with The Franklin In­sti­tute in Philadel­phia and the Univer­sity of North Carolina More­head Plan­e­tar­ium and Science Cen­ter to bring STEM ed­u­ca­tion to un­der­served el­e­men­tary school stu­dents around the na­tion in a fun, en­gag­ing way that sparks a life­long love of science, and opens their minds to the pos­si­bil­i­ties that ex­ist based on em­brac­ing STEM aca­dem­i­cally and as a ca­reer. By of­fer­ing th­ese classes to el­e­men­tary-aged stu­dents – par­tic­u­larly those from un­der­served pop­u­la­tions not widely rep­re­sented in the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity – we’re able to reach some of the stu­dents who need and ap­pre­ci­ate it the most, while keep­ing them aca­dem­i­cally en­gaged dur­ing longer breaks, when school is out of ses­sion. This year, more than 25,000 stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in our GSK Science in the Sum­mertm pro­gram in schools, li­braries, and com­mu­nity cen­ters across the coun­try. Visit www.sci­en­ceinthe­sum­­tiv­i­ties to down­load print­able PDFS of safe and fun ways to keep your child en­gaged in STEM learn­ing. It’s a great way to in­spire a love of science over the win­ter break and all year long.

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