10 initiatives engaging and teaching students the importance of STEM fields

Here are 10 STEM initiatives kicking up the engagement of science, technology, engineering and math with students this summer.

By Aaron Hurd

CD1506 stemarticle2In a country plagued with low job prospects for recent graduates, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields stand out as a beacon of expansion and promising careers that are sure to shape our future for years to come.

Despite its continual growth, many companies simply can’t find enough qualified people to keep up with employment demands. This youth outreach problem is no more evident than when examining women and minorities in STEM fields.

According to a recent report by US News and World Report, women and minorities are still deeply underrepresented in STEM fields. Women make up 28% of the STEM workforce, while African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives together constitute just 10% of the nation’s STEM workforce compared to their 26% share of the country’s total population.

Also read: Infographic: Minorities in STEM

Along with a special interest in growing the numbers of women and minority representation in STEM fields, there are also increased efforts to attract students into STEM majors from rural areas, where technological resources may be scarce. There is much work to be done, but some recent numbers from US News show outreach may be working, due in part to fun and effective initiatives like these.

Here are 10 STEM initiatives inspiring students this summer:

1. Clinton Foundation "Transforming Eastern Kentucky"

The STEM Transforming Eastern Kentucky (STEMTEK) initiative, announced by former president Bill Clinton last month at the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting, plans to bring high-skill, high-wage jobs to the impoverished region. The plan is to help the region’s teachers pursue accreditation, engage students in STEM fields, give curriculum counseling and provide classroom tech to enhance the functionalities of its education. Learn more about the initiative.

 2. On Track Motorsports Education Initiative 

In this Bowling Green area initiative, students will break down and rebuild two Chevrolet Camaros, learning about car manufacturing in the process. The initiative is trying to address South Central Kentucky’s employment issues, where there is expected to be 4,500 job openings in 2016 in manufacturing alone. Learn more about the initiative.

3. MIT PK12 Initiative to equip teachers with tech

MIT has partnered with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to provide $9.9 million worth of digital learning tools and environments to use in the classroom. The initiative will focus on K-12 education, and will include learning modules, simulations and intensive clinical experiences. Learn more about the initiative.

4. Girls in STEM Career Exploratory camp

This August in Arlington, Mass., middle school girls will be given the chance to attend the STEM Career Exploratory camp featuring hands-on experiences taught by current college students. The students will be completing outdoor activities such as soil testing and studying animal tracks as part of this effort to inspire more women to pursue STEM fields. Learn more about the initiative.

5. “STEMming into the Community” show

Imaginary water, disappearing plastic cups and flammable dollar bills will all be featured at this new initiative launched by GeorgiaCollege. The event is a sort-of science “magic” show in an attempt to garner more youth interest in STEM fields. The shows will be hosted by chemistry students and will even feature take-home activities to keep the children engaged out of the classroom. Learn more about the initiative.

 6. The White House’s “Week of Making”

“Week of Making” is an annual event hosted by the White House to encourage more people (especially women and minorities) to pursue STEM related careers. Attendees visit the U.S. Patent Office, engage in panel discussions and participate in hands-on activities. The event is by invite only and celebrates successful role models in the STEM industry as well as encouraging new minds to pursue the field. Learn more about the initiative.

 7. Lego building at “CampLegotastic”

This Spartanburg, S.C., camp introduces elementary school children to the world of STEM using Lego education tools. Students write and illustrate stories using Lego blocks, use computer software to animate those stories, build and program robots and have fun exploring how Legos relate to the ever-expanding field of STEM. Learn more about the initiative.

8. “Engineering Design with Solar Cars” workshop

Using solar car kits purchased with a grant, fifth grade students in Chicago designed and built cars with motors connected to a solar panel. The students then tested and analyzed their creations. The initiative was part of Ecolab Foundation’s attempt to educate youth about renewable energy and the engineering process. Learn more about the initiative.

9. Girl Scouts Power Up camp

This camp, geared toward upper elementary and middle school girls, highlights STEM initiatives through field trips and interactive lessons on energy, science, technology and ecosystems. Additionally, the girls will learn how to build a computer, create recycled paper and build and launch rockets. The camp is being held by the University of Louisiana-Monroe as part of their community outreach program through the College of Education. Learn more about the initiative.

10. U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION competition

In this annual competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, sixth- through ninth-graders develop solutions to real-world problems in their community. As the U.S. Army is constantly seeking talented STEM workers, the competition goal is to hopefully inspire students to take what they learn in the classroom and extend it into their daily lives and cultivate an interest in STEM fields. Learn more about the initiative.

 Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net