Outreach is huge. It is impactful and personal. Passionate people give their time to bring visibility and interest to a cause or initiative they care deeply about. It allows individuals to draw in and inspire a perhaps previously unknowing or, already, curious audience. My outreach passion is for the ever growing STEM initiative.
The educational push for STEM is incredibly exciting for me. I personally feel a responsibility to be engaged in STEM outreach. If I want my industry to grow and prosper, I need to be inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals and hobbyists. When I was in grade school, the STEM Initiative was hardly developed, if even a topic of discussion. There were no programs specifically designed to engage young students in STEM. Yes, we had technology electives and computer classes. However, the engagement seemed stale and I was never inspired nor encouraged to pursue a STEM career. It was actually a music teacher that suggested I investigate Mechanical Engineering that started this ambition.
As the country hustles to fill the generation gap of STEM professionals, I am taking every opportunity I can to talk STEM. What are ways that you, as a STEM professional, can participate in outreach? Here are a few ideas:
#1 Participate in a STEM night at a grade school
Grade schools are actively putting on STEM nights which showcase students work as well as bring in STEM professionals. These STEM professionals have the opportunity to display their own work in the real world, talking to students and parents about their career path in the STEM field. Take this opportunity to encourage young students to investigate STEM. Tell them what got you interested and why you have so much fun in STEM every day!
#2 Invite Schools to Tour
Reach out to local schools and offer to give their students a tour of your facility. Real world application is key. Students are always asking “When am I going to use this in real life?” Be the answer to that question!
#3 Be a Sponsor
Many schools now have dedicated STEM classes. Find out what projects they are working on and offer your help and resources. Perhaps you can give the students a problem from your work to learn about and maybe even solve.
#4 Find a local STEM program and get involved!
Do a quick search of STEM programs in your area and find out how you can get involved. The FIRST Lego League robotics competition is fairly widespread. I spent a Saturday judging students’ robots and had a blast!
These are just a handful of ideas to get involved in STEM outreach. Pick one and give it a try!
I’d love to hear about your STEM outreach experiences. Please leave a comment or send me a message.