Underserved teenagers lacking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) resources in their schools have new reasons to study the in-demand subjects, thanks to a New York State Education Department grant awarded to NYIT for nearly $1 million over the next five years. The grant supports the state's Science Technology Entry Program (STEP) to immerse students in STEM subjects and prepare them for college. NYIT will partner with Long Island, N.Y., school districts in Islip, Central Islip, and North Babylon to share the thrill of scientific discovery with 100 students in grades 7 to 12.
"We're giving kids an opportunity to create and develop skills that will make them successful in future science careers," said Stan Silverman, NYIT's director of technology-based learning systems and the grant's project manager.
Such careers may be as software developers, nurses, or civil engineers. The need for employees with skills essential to these careers is outpacing the supply of college graduates with STEM degrees, according to a report by Burning Glass International Inc., a U.S. firm that uses artificial intelligence to measure career data. The report noted 5.7 million STEM job postings in 2013 and identified 2.5 entry-level job postings for each new four-year graduate in STEM fields.
Silverman will collaborate with NYIT faculty and staff members to develop:
- Mini college courses that highlight STEM careers.
- Skills training in scientific research for participating students.
- Strategies for use by school counselors and teachers to encourage STEM education, coordinated by Assistant Professor Megyn Shea.
In addition, NYIT will use new tactics with this round of funding (the university has received STEP grants since the 1980s, when the state program launched). For example, one of the ways middle and high school students will learn about science topics will be to interact more with NYIT's STEAM van (the van adds the "A" for arts). The students will get to act as teachers and give lessons on how to use the van's technologies, including 3-D printers and programmable circuits designed for clothing.
"The new exercises will build self-confidence in students and show them how to pay forward their knowledge of science," Silverman said. "These are lessons we want them to carry to college and beyond."