Accenture tried to hire 500 new computer specialists in Chicago last year and struggled to fill the positions (Source: Crain’s Chicago Business). So how can we get more kids interested in such fields?
Although I’m a firm believer in living for today, I do agree with that wise sage, Charles Schultz, who said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, take a rest this afternoon” in Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom.
Most parents would probably agree that we need to ensure our children’s futures. After all, most parents spend a considerable amount of time making sure that their children learn to navigate the world—their future—successfully. And while we can’t predict what the world will look like in 20 years, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it won’t look like today, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Just think about what wasn’t invented 20 years ago, and most likely it exists today because of the inventiveness of an engineer, scientist or mathematician.
Yet not enough American students are specializing in these areas, even though these areas are where the jobs—and the future—most likely lie. We need more students interested in these areas to make our nation more innovative and competitive.
Schools have realized that we need to provide students with learning experiences that inspire our students in these subject areas. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) all enable people to be imaginative and inventive; we just need to show kids that these are, indeed, exciting fields.
District 205 understands that we need to motivate students to be interested in how things work and how to create and innovate. After a review of its science curriculum at all levels and an investigation into available materials, they decided to ensure that its middle school science and math classes provide hands-on, integrated, exciting learning. As a result, for each middle school, they purchased one class set of devices called NOVA5000s, along with additional equipment (scientific electronic probes that gather data such as temperature, velocity, pH) that will allow students to conduct hands-on experiments that align with the curriculum.
Data that is gathered will be downloaded to the NOVA5000 device, which allows students to view and manipulate the data in various ways. Instead of using outdated equipment (pH strips, anyone?), our students will be able to use equipment that is more in line with what adults in the field use today—as they look toward tomorrow.
The District 205 Foundation for Educational Excellence has worked closely with the district administration in identifying a targeted project that will significantly enhance student learning through innovation and creativity, and its board has committed to raising funds to purchase additional class sets of the NOVA5000s so that each grade level at each middle school—and as a result, every middle school student—will have opportunities to conduct hands-on, exciting work in the fields of math and science.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, the District 205 Foundation for Educational Excellence will hold its annual fund-raiser, Midnight Masquerade, to raise money for programs in our schools, and in particular, NOVA5000s. Realizing that people want to know where their donations are going, the Foundation is thrilled to be partnering with District 205 to support its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiatives.
The Foundation has planned an evening of fun for everyone who attends: John Garcia, District 205 parent and ABC News Reporter, will emcee the evening; Val Stewart will receive the Friend of the Foundation Award; there will be an array of appetizers and desserts, including a carving station; a refined silent auction, raffles (including an awesome Chicago Sports Raffle that includes premium tickets to every Chicago major league team) and dancing to live music with Whata ‘bout Bob.
Attendees will learn more about STEM education in District 205 by seeing the NOVA5000s in action.
Everyone is invited! We hope that our community will help support this initiative through their attendance at Midnight Masquerade and through donations. A classroom set of 16 NOVA5000s, 4 probes, and a cart to hold and charge the devices, runs about $9500; our ultimate goal is to purchase 6-9 sets so that all students will be able to learn science and math in an integrated way using 21st Century technology.
So grab some friends and purchase some tickets. Have fun and get some learning in as well!
And if you can't attend, consider giving a donation to the Foundation. Any amount will help the Foundation reach its goal.
Full disclosure: I am on the executive board of the District 205 Foundation for Excellence, but even if I weren’t, I would support this initiative wholeheartedly.