Monday, February 27, 2012

STEM at The Works, Works

Denison University chemistry students show my kids how to make slime.

A few years ago, Battelle's Rich Rosen cited a national statistic that 80% of parents discourage their children from science and technology careers.  Shocking.

That stat, told to a wide audience of Licking County economic and workforce development leaders, was a motivator.  Even if it was only half true in Licking County, many of us reasoned, companies like Boeing, Goodrich, Bayer MaterialScience, and other advanced manufacturers in Licking County were in trouble to fulfill their engineering- and technician-level talent needs long-term.

Yes, it's a national issue.  That makes it a local issue too though.  We need to emphasize the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.

STEM at The Works was part of the solution and its now over three years going strong.  The idea from the beginning was to hit on three key, simple metrics:

1. Reach Families.  Use The Works as a platform to reach parents and kids with an understanding of the need for STEM skills.

2. Connect with Industry.  Make The Works a place for industry to connect with the schools and the parents to increase the local understanding of the need for STEM skills.

3. Be a Resource for Schools.  Be a resource for schools in Licking County to reach both families and industry in a unique way.

The second STEMFest event went off Sunday and helped with all three goals.  See the coverage.

Families got reached.  There were easily 400+ parents and kids at the event.  For many, this was their first time at The Works and much of the audience were school-age and, even, pre-Kindergarten aged kids.

Industry connected.  There were 15 stations set up with a wide range of industries present connecting up with the audience.  What kid doesn't remember the dinosaur from PCA or the paper cup bridge at Jobes Henderson? Twenty companies were there in one form or another.

Schools got touched.  Lastly, the number of school systems and schools represented in the form of teams from middle school and high schools was double last year in every respect.  I'm sure word of C-TEC's winning the aerodynamics competition has made its way through that vocational schools' corridors this morning.  The pre-event and post-event work on this competition is where the real effort is made too.  The schools can't accomplish these things on their own.  Industry is the key motivator.

STEM at The Works, works.  With efforts like STEM at The Works and STEMFest, Licking County manufacturing has a brighter future.


TAKE ACTION:  Didn't get enough from STEMFest?  Didn't get to go?  Aerospace Center Industry Day at The Works is set for March 11 from Noon to 3 p.m. It's another chance to experience STEM first hand.

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