On July 14th, Director of Operations and Professional Development for EiE, Jill Olson, moderated an incredible panel for STEM leaders during the 2020 STEM Leadership Alliance Virtual Summit.
The panel, Growing the Future STEM Workforce Pipeline, included industry leaders Jess Anderson, the Director of Strategic Giving at Dell Technologies, Lina Klebanov, the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the Science Program Specialist for the Kent School District, Dr. Annette Venegas.
With STEM leadership participating from around the world, Jill and the panel discussed the growth of technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence, as well as the mindset necessary to succeed in the rapidly-evolving world of STEM. The collaborative conversation also proposed tangible solutions for preparing students to enter the STEM workforce.
Here are some key insights from our panelists during the conversation:
How do we define “workforce readiness” today and for the next generation? Workforce readiness includes being adaptable, flexible, and collaborative. Students need a core foundation of content and skills AND they need to know how to apply what they know. Many students believe digital technology is at the center of all they should know, but this pandemic and the changes in teaching and learning demonstrated that students may be “social media” savvy, but they were not digital savvy.
“As teachers we have the opportunity to be the guide in our students’ education and unleash the creative potential of each and every student...In a world that is ever-changing, our job is not to prepare students for something; instead, our role is to help students prepare themselves for anything,” Dr. Annette Venegas
The discussion also highlighted the impact of EiE’s PreK-8 engineering curriculum, which was supported by Dell to be implemented in Venegas’s school district. Feedback from the educators made us proud:
“Teachers were provided exceptional training (lots of time for hands-on work and questioning) before implementation. Teachers also had a choice for the units to implement. It had to be standards-based for their grade level- but many choices were available. Several teachers emailed to say students loved being problem solvers and related to the students in the book… teacher responses to having additional support materials to meet the needs of their students (particularly the needs of our gifted students) has been positive. Many teachers have already requested a different unit for this school year. Some want to keep the unit they had in the 19-20 school year because they discovered ways to improve their teaching.”
As so eloquently described by our VP of STEM, Heather Gunsallus, “it’s going to take all of us—foundations, corporations, school leaders, community organizations, and families—working together to inspire all children to be confident STEM learners and to cultivate a future STEM workforce.”