Running on STEAM

by Pandit F. Wright
March 12, 2013
screenshot from video

Still from “The Elements.”

Over the past decade, the steady increase in the accessibility of the Internet has put new technologies at the fingertips of many. This evolving platform presents a niche for the development of digital literacy and a growing market for information technologies.

With deep commitment to a mission serving the youth who need us most, my team and I at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) take on the responsibility of ensuring that every member who comes through our doors leaves with a vision for a productive life and a plan for the future. It has become a priority to equip our members with the exposure necessary to be the leaders of tomorrow’s technologies. Recently we’ve begun to focus on closing a gap in the education of some of our members, especially in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Here’s why.

In 2011, China had the highest percentage of college graduates with STEM degrees— 46.7%, followed by South Korea at 37.8%, and Germany at 28.1. The United States trails behind these economic competitors with only 5.6% of graduate degrees in STEM-related fields. After looking at these statistics, it’s hard not to consider the impact that this will have on our ability to compete in global markets, and how it can affect our national growth.

The United States Department of Labor says that 15 out of the 20 fastest growing occupations in 2014 will require significant mathematics or science preparation. According to the United States Bureau of Statistics, the country will have over 1 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018, and yet only 16% of United States bachelor’s degrees will specialize in STEM.

At BGCGW we use our resources not only to teach STEM, but to try and keep members engaged throughout their adolescent, pre-career years. In this pursuit we have launched STEAM, the “A” representing the arts. Examples of people who move with ease between the worlds of science and the arts have long been documented, and the integration of the arts is a powerful way to make learning fun and more meaningful. It improves student retention, helps clarify tough subjects and vocabulary, and promotes over-all learning. I encourage all of you to watch the video below to see STEAM in action.

AthleTECH and the National STEM Video Game Challenge are just two programs that promote this STEAM ideology. The visual and graphic arts components seen in popular gaming systems, such as Xbox Kinect and various software programs are unexpected secret weapons of learning comprehension.

Our goal is to get Club members involved in STEAM at an early age, create positive impact and remove any negative associations that may have already formed around these subject areas.

“Running on STEAM!” is just one of our strategies for impacting kids on their way to great futures. Find out more about our organization, our STEAM initiative and the youth we serve. Come and see what’s going on—visit a Club or check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Pandit F. WrightPandit F. Wright, is the president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW). She is an accomplished executive whose career has included positions in leading organizations such as Discovery Communications, the number one nonfiction company in the world; premiere investment banking firm, Salomon Brothers; INCO (International Nickel Company) and Aetna.