STEM Beats - August 2015

Guest Blog: Matt Blakely of Motorola Solutions on Funding Priorities

August 31, 2015

How have you selected the programs you have chosen to fund?
We selected the programs we support using several different criteria:  First, does the program teach science, engineering or technology in an engaging, hands-on way that lets students or teachers develop their own lines of inquiry or creativity?  Second, does the program take place in places where Motorola Solutions has a presence so our employees can advise or volunteer with the program? Third, does the program make a measurable, positive impact on students' skill or attitudes towards careers in engineering or technology?  We also look to see what other groups are supporting the program and how the program partners with other companies or educational institutions.

Have you seen a return on investment from funding these programs? In what way?
We see several returns on our investment in STEM education.  First, many of our programs are able to demonstrate that students become much more interested in careers in STEM and, more importantly, believe they can become STEM professionals themselves.  Second, our employees that volunteer with these programs bring back new energy and fresh ideas to the workplace.  Third, we have been funding some programs long enough that a few students who participated in some of the activities are now working for Motorola Solutions helping us develop public safety tools.

What advice do you have for other companies looking to fund similar initiatives?
My advice is to determine what you want to accomplish and leverage the existing strengths of your company.  Our engineers create nearly indestructible technology services and products for public safety, so we support hands-on, experiential learning programs that help students explore careers in engineering and technology.

Matt Blakely is Executive Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

Tags: guest blog, STEMworks

Guest Blog: Nicole Rigg of Chevron on Funding Priorities

August 26, 2015

How have you selected the programs you have chosen to fund?
As a company of engineers and scientists, we focus our investments in education on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at every stage from early education to career and technical training. One of the programs we support in the U.S. that we recently spoke to CTEq members about is Project Lead The Way. Project Lead The Way is the leading provider of project-based engineering curriculum. Beyond the curriculum content, Project Lead The Way helps students develop critical skills in problem solving, teamwork, time management, communications and leadership that we need in our future employees – whether at Chevron or other companies. By equipping students with these real-world skills, we can help build the smart, adaptive workforce that all our businesses need.

By partnering with organizations that share the same focus as our business – engineering and science – we can also provide support far beyond just writing a check. Depending on the needs of the nonprofit, we provide leadership to help our partners succeed, communications support to amplify messages, and mentors and role models to inspire students to become the next generation of innovators. 

Have you seen a return on investment from funding these programs? In what way?
Our partnership with Project Lead The Way has established 125 project-based engineering programs across 7 states. We have been funding programs for over five years and are now excited to see the results. This includes students who have participated in our programs from middle school all the way through high school. For example, in the Kern County High School District in Bakersfield, California, a Project Lead The Way Engineering Pathway class had 90% of the graduates of the program accepted into various colleges across the country to continue their education and their career aspirations in STEM.

What advice do you have for other companies looking to fund similar initiatives?
For a true partnership, how an organization operates and aligns to your business is as important as what they do. Ensuring your core values and expectations align up front can also make any challenging conversations or the need to adapt the partnership along the way easier.

Nicole Rigg is an Advisor for Education and Corporate Programs at Chevron. In this role she works with STEM education and workforce development nonprofit organizations to build opportunities for youth development through education and employment.

Tags: STEMworks, guest blog

Guest Blog: Meredith Moore Crosby of 3M on Funding Priorities

August 20, 2015

How have you selected the programs you have chosen to fund?
We refer to benchmarks like STEMworks and our own internal evaluation to identify programs that will help students and school districts achieve the desired outcomes. To ensure we have strategic and sustainable partners, we consult with other funders and ensure that the program is meeting a specific need identified by the recipient. With strategic partners like FIRST, we are able to support more than 200,000 students through donated products for the kits, team sponsorships and 3M mentors.

Have you seen a return on investment from funding these programs? In what way?
Everyday 3M Scientists apply science in unique ways to create products to improve lives. So it is important for 3M to invest in the next generation of scientists and help build a pipeline of diverse, high performing global talent. We do that by funding innovative STEM programs and also through the power of our people. We provide hands on opportunities for 3Mers to share their skills and experience to excite students about future careers in STEM. Through volunteer opportunities our engineers and scientists provide teachers and students with relevant examples from today’s workplace while gaining inspiration from the ingenuity of students’ thinking and questions. Our 3M leadership behaviors align well with supporting student programs to help students innovate, develop their self and others and foster collaboration and teamwork. While we play to win, we also act with integrity and respect. By providing role models we are introducing the future high performing talent to the culture and values of 3M for their consideration as they pursue an education and potentially a career in STEM.

What advice do you have for other companies looking to fund similar initiatives?
Start with the end in mind. There are a lot of great partners that have strong expertise in STEM, it’s important to understand your company’s goals and how you can support your organization's mission while providing innovative solutions to the unique challenges facing our STEM pipeline. By sharing our organizational goals, geographic priorities and expected outcomes, you can build a sustainable relationship that will help develop the future and engage more young people in exploring STEM.

Meredith Moore Crosby is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for 3Mgives. In this role, Meredith is responsible for the development and implementation of 3M’s strategy to create a deeper pipeline of high performing diverse global talent through investments in education.

Tags: guest blog, STEMworks

STEM Jobs: Key Ingredient in Economic Recovery

August 18, 2015

Want to get a good job?  The research is in and the message is clear: pursue a STEM discipline! 

A report just released by Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce finds that between 2010 and 2014, there was significant growth in “good jobs,” i.e., jobs that pay more than $53K per year.  Furthermore, of the 2.9 million good jobs added during this time period, 881K are in STEM professions and require a college degree.  The only professional occupation that added more jobs than STEM was management.  These findings refute the popular media reports that proclaim that the greatest job growth in the economic recovery has been in low wage jobs.

Good jobs don’t just pay more:  they have more benefits than jobs in the middle and low paying categories.  On average, 86 percent of good jobs are full time, 68 percent provide health insurance, and 61 percent provide retirement benefits. Over the course of a lifetime, that can mean an awful lot in more than just earnings.

As we at CTEq previously reported, during the height of the recession, when the overall national ratio of jobseeker to jobs was 3.6 to one, the ratio in STEM professions was the inverse:  one to 1.9!  Unemployment for STEM jobseekers was 3 percent, while the overall national rate was 7 percent. 

More important reasons to make STEM courses and programs accessible and exciting in grades K-12!

Tags: jobs & workforce

STEM in the Summer: Hot Three Science Museums

August 17, 2015

In the final installment of our “hot three” STEM in the Summer Series, we’re highlighting three science museums that cater to kids’ curiosity with hands-on, interactive STEM learning opportunities. 

The Center of Science in Industry in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest science centers in the United States, with more than 300 interactive exhibits, a seven-story extreme screen theater and an outdoor science park. Fun things to do:

  • Explore motion and mechanics, make high-tech robots disco dance, and take things apart and put them back together at the Gadgets exhibit, which focuses on practical applications of physics, chemistry, engineering and energy
  • Ride in a space capsule, maneuver a rover through a Martian landscape, pilot a lunar module at an interactive simulator station, and explore the effects of gravity on different planets at the Space exhibit
  • Enter a research habitat and use real ocean exploration technology, such as submersibles, sonar and remote-operated vehicles, to learn about the physical nature of water and the wonders of the undersea world

At the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Ark., check out Mindbender Mansion, “an eclectic place full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges” for children and adults. The exhibit features individual and group problem solving challenges, such as Amazing Maze, in which visitors work together to tilt a classic steel ball labyrinth game table in different directions, guiding a ball into six holes as quickly as possible. Put this on your calendar soon—this exhibit closes on Sept. 7.

While you’re there, don’t miss the musical bi-polar Tesla coil, a device that creates high-voltage electricity at a high frequency visible to the eye. The coil, one of the world’s largest, emits electrical discharges to a variety of songs.  

The Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, N.M., traces the history of the World War II Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb. Here you’ll see replicas of the first nuclear bombs and a new exhibit on explosives. In 40 interactive exhibits, the museum also showcases the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s current research, expertise and technology in the life sciences, material sciences, space, supercomputing, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and global security. Good bets for science thrills: playing a particle accelerator simulation game and interactive exhibits on nanotechnology, algae biofuels, environmental monitoring and the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Tags: science

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