Sunday, September 4, 2022

STEM Learning Inspires


The seventh grader brought the bridge he made from mere toothpicks to STEMFest at The Works.  His special needs school aide and parents came with him. 

He put his bridge under test to see if it could withstand the pressure.  Then, he put himself to the test too with the pressure of presenting in front of the judges and competition.

The tears running down his parents’ faces and those of many in the crowd proved that that kid had passed a new threshold of STEM learning that even those closest to him wondered whether he could pass.  He nailed it!

Though he didn’t win the competition that day, there’s no doubt he won a new path for himself with STEM learning at the heart of it.  Inspiring.

This inspiring story is repeated in Licking County throughout our history and now.

The Newark Rotary Club, 100 years ago, put on an industrial exposition to help the special needs children of our community.  An April 1921 Rotary event was an early example of helping our community prepare for industry while also helping our children of all capabilities excel.

This summer of 2022 was inspiring with a new way to connect industry and learners of all kinds.  PCA, Boeing, and Covestro technologists showed off their day-to-day STEM skills to an integrated audience of YMCA summer campers and YMCA All for One campers. 

I watched an All for One camper put together his PCA cardboard cutout faster than most and faster, certainly, than I could have grasped doing it.  His determination was inspiring.

STEM learning in Licking County is reaching a wider audience and special needs children are a part of the audience. 

It’s all happening at the right time.  STEM skills in Licking County are in demand.

Boeing is hiring.  There are 28 different jobs, many requiring engineering skills, available at right now.

Ohio Means Jobs Licking County is helping fill jobs at Ariel, Gathered Foods, and other STEM-skilled job creators. advertises over 10,000 jobs within 50 miles with the keyword engineer included.

Plus, who hasn’t heard of that chipmaker coming to Licking County? Intel craves STEM skills.

These are my three suggestions for considering adding STEM learning to your children’s and your own educational backgrounds:

 1.    Take part in STEMfest at The Works.  The early March competition starts this Autumn by picking the industry challenge, forming a team, and preparing to both understand the science plus tell the STEM story too.  The Works is a spark to STEM learning and has a track record of more than 14 years at inspiring youth to STEM careers.

 2.    Sign up for your school systems’ STEM programs.  Many of our Licking County schools have STEM learning programming in addition to the regular curriculum.  For example, Newark City Schools offers pre-engineering to elementary school kids now.  Their STEM summer camps are a must-do.

 3.    Inspire STEM learning in your home.  Call it STEM literacy.  I heard a stat once that four of five Nobel Prize winners were inspired outside of the classroom.  Seek out programming at Dawes or other STEM learning venues.  Look for that possible inspiration to a STEM career through exposure to a wide variety of STEM learning options.

I know from personal experience that STEM learning is an inspiration for a better future for all Licking Countians.  I know, because I’ve been inspired by our youth.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

See The Advocate story "Buckeye Family YMCA Holding STEM Camps, Learning Opportunities" for more.

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