“Preparing young people for 21st century careers is the single most important investment we can make to maintain America’s global leadership in business, innovation and entrepreneurship”
Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 19, 2015
19,000 high-school students across the United States participated in the 2nd annual STEM Career Accelerator Day 2015, a program designed to engage and educate students about the rewarding career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The STEM Innovation Task Force - a leadership council of STEMconnector - designed and implemented the program with the assistance of partner organizations and school systems. The 2015 program took place throughout the week of October 19-23.
Of the 19,000 student participants, 60% were female and 65% were under-represented minority students, a specific design of the program aimed to improve the glaring disparity in representation in the STEM workforce. In addition to the students, 400 teachers, 400 parents and 900 employee volunteers participated in the program.
“It’s very important to focus our efforts on improving outcomes for young women and people of color,” commented Tonie Leatherberry, Principal, Deloitte and 2016 STEM CAD Chair. “Targeting our investments and programs on under-represented groups is absolutely paramount if our country wants to increase diversity in the STEM fields.”
Students learned about STEM career opportunities through experiential site visits to major corporations, government facilities, universities, community colleges and a virtual platform. Activities included real-world problem solving challenges, interaction with STEM professionals, hands on activities, and discussions on career pathways.
“Preparing young people for 21st century careers is the single most important investment we can make to maintain America’s global leadership in business, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Balaji Ganapathy, Head of Workforce Effectiveness, Tata Consultancy Services. "By learning firsthand how to harness the power of technology to solve real world problems, students develop new skills and expand their career outlook.”
A team from Spark 101, a nonprofit organization and online resource that brings real world challenges to the classroom, focused on engaging students virtually, and managed the overall program evaluation. The evaluation measured student interest and understanding of STEM, plans to take STEM coursework, plans to learn more about STEM, and satisfaction with the program. 72% of students were engaged in sites that participated in the evaluation; here are a few of the major findings:
- 4,600 students increased plans to take more STEM coursework
- 4,900 students increased understanding of how STEM courses relate to their life, and interest in STEM courses and careers
- 3,100 students increased the number of ways they plan to learn more about STEM
STEM Career Accelerator Day programs were particularly impactful with students that had a previously low-level of interest in STEM activities. 41% of those students increased plans to take STEM coursework and 43% increased understanding and interest in STEM. This important finding will help inform the 2016 program, which will specifically target students that are not already engaged in intensive STEM programming (i.e. STEM focused schools and programs).
Al Bunshaft, CEO of Dassault Systemes Government Solutions and STEM Innovation Task Force Co-Chair offered, “Inspiring the next generation, and especially igniting interest in students that are currently outside the STEM ecosystem, is important to increase the number of qualified workers that employers need now. STEM Career Accelerator Day (CAD) has proved to be an effective way to directly engage these students. Through STEM CAD they experience the excitement and opportunities that STEM skills offer. They are experiencing how they can positively impact their world.”
The timeline for the 2016 STEM Career Accelerator Day program will be expanded from one week, to the entire month of October in order to allow for more flexibility and participation.
2015 Participants Include: Campbell Soup Company; Dassault Systemes; Deloitte; Des Moines Area Community College; Hawkeye Community College; Inspired Classroom; James Dyson Foundation; Learning Blade; Micron Foundation; Montana STEMfest; NASA Goddard Flight Center; North State STEM; PepsiCo; Reebok; SkillsUSA; Sodexo; Spark 101; STEMconnector; Tata Consultancy Services; Teach For America; University of Memphis; University of Phoenix; Walmart.