Fostering the Next Generation of Scientists and Innovators
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.scienceinthesummer.com/activities 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.