Written by Herald Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:49
Standing at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by the Long Island STEM Hub and dozens of Long Island students who are part of the school’s engineering and robotics team, announced her education agenda to encourage more youths, especially women, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), bolster engineering education programs across Long Island’s elementary, middle, and high schools and draw more STEM teachers to educate children in high-need areas.
With eight of nine of the fastest growing industries requiring math and science proficiency and women, minority, and low-income students underrepresented in STEM-related careers, Gillibrand is pushing for federal measures to close the achievement gap and bring more STEM-related programs, such as the Long Island STEM Hub’s Career Academies, to schools across Long Island. With the success of POB-JFK high school’s targeted STEM curriculum and engineering program, the Hub will be launching an additional career academy in engineering next school year.
“Long Island is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities, a world-class workforce and innovative career opportunities,” Gillibrand said. “But if we’re going to keep our competiveness in the global economy, and keep our skilled workforce in the region, we must prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future. That starts with getting more talented students — from diverse backgrounds — into the STEM pipeline at a younger age, expanding engineering education, and bringing more STEM teachers into high-need communities. We are relying on our children today to be the innovators of tomorrow. It’s our job to make sure they are prepared.”
To spark greater student interest in STEM, Gillibrand announced three proposals as part her education agenda. Under Gillibrand’s legislation, the Long Island Stem Hub, in partnership with local schools, would be able to apply for federal grants to strengthen STEM education and boost student achievement in STEM.
Gillibrand’s trio of STEM education proposals includes an initiative to provide access to women and minorities; the bolstering of engineering programs in the nation’s elementary, middle and high schools; and an emphasis on STEM teacher training.
Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis, said Plainview has a strong tradition of supporting science education and career enlightment for students of all genders and backgrounds.
“The future belongs to those who are equipped and prepared to handle its challenges and opportunities,” said Lewis. “The Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District has had a tradition of support for Science Research and engineering-based activities, including our robotics program, as we recognize that they are essential to our mission of preparing critical thinkers and problem solvers for the world they will enter as working citizens. We are extremely honored to have Senator Gillibrand visit John F. Kennedy High School to emphasize the importance of STEM education throughout the region. Her bill will reinforce and strengthen the work that needs to be accomplished in schools if we are serious about remaining competitive as a nation.”
The Long Island STEM Hub currently supports six school districts who utilize the Career Academy model, and the interest is growing. A Career Academy is a small learning community that operates within an existing school to link selected high-growth industry themes to the core academic curriculum. Using NYS Standards, Career Academies is a proven, effective educational model that aligns to the workforce needs of the region while it prepares students for college and careers.
Known as the “POBOTS,” a team of JFK high school students who are currently preparing to enter the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition later this year unveiled their robot today which they engineered from scratch. For more than a decade, JFK high school students have participated in regional, statewide and national STEM competitions. The robotics team has placed both regionally and nationally in previous years. In 2007, two senior students involved in the school’s Independent Research program — Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff — won first prize at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.
The Plainview district participates in the Long Island STEM Hub’s “career academy” designation, with an emphasis on health care and engineering. The Hub, which works to support and leverage resources by providing a centralized information source for school districts, businesses, and worker retraining operations to improve STEM education, is one of 10 STEM hubs across New York State.
Cheryl Davidson, co-steward of the Long Island STEM Hub, said the country’s economic viability hinges on young people’s ability to thrive in careers based on STEM education.
“Improving STEM education for all students is an economic imperative,” she said. “Employees at every level and in every industry will require STEM skills yet, too few students pursue careers in STEM. This legislation will allow us to increase the number of districts participating in Career Academies, offering relevant learning opportunities to every level of student, resulting in strengthened college and career success in STEM.”