Non-Profit: Newton’s Road
You have likely seen the acronym STEM used in some context: the news, your school, toy labels. You may know that the letters stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But what does STEM really mean to you and your family, and why should you care about it?
We are living, learning and working in the midst of a digital transformation that is dramatically changing how industries, organizations and people across the globe operate and engage. For example, you can book a room in someone’s house using Airbnb; your car beeps at you if you cross over the lane marker; your kid gets 3D printed plastic braces; and endangered rhinos get sensors implanted to help rangers protect them from poachers.
Because new types and ways of doing business are rapidly happening, the jobs of the future are evolving and many are completely new or don’t exist yet. What we do know for sure is that there is an explosion of good paying STEM-related jobs, many of which go unfilled, and that everyone will need a strong foundation in STEM skills whatever field they choose to work in because every company is becoming a technology company.
STEM skills include figuring out how things work following the scientific method, and using geometry, algebra or calculus to model and design things. It means making (engineering) a solution to a business process or health issue, and programming (technology) something to perform a task. Just as important are the abilities to make things that are useful and usable, to work well in a diverse team of people, to think creatively about ways to solve a problem, and to share your ideas and results in a compelling way--all in age-appropriate ways.
This is why we believe that facilitating experiences that incorporate STEM elements, creative thinking, and multiple forms of communication in structured and unstructured ways are important starting from a young age. (For more on this, see the article Early STEM Provides 'Critical Foundation' for Future Learning By Dian Schaffhauser on our Newton’s Road Facebook!)
One of the coolest aspects about this digital transformation is that things are becoming easier to interact with and even personalized. This includes evolving what and how we learn and where we will learn it using proven models such as “experiential learning” and “project-based learning”. Which means learning more by DOING things and EXPLORING and INTERACTING with people and things, and less often listening to a person or video telling us about something. These methods are important to learning STEM-related skills because people tend to think they are really hard to learn. That’s in large part due to these subjects traditionally being taught with lots of (boring!) lectures and memorization for the standardized tests, rather than the engaging, hands-on experiences we’re gradually seeing more of today!
Newton’s Road was formed by parents who saw how much their kids were learning in after-school robotics teams and wanted to see more hands-on STEM learning during school for all kids. We supported STEM-related activities--for example, training teachers to use donated 3D printers for projects--and brought STEM organizations around the Bay together to increase awareness of how families and teachers can incorporate more STEM learning.
Today Newton’s Road has a new team moving forward on our mission to build a strong STEM ecosystem that benefits our families, businesses and community. In recent months, local visionary Casey Cowell emphasized how the Newton’s Road mission is a critical resource for achieving a strong year-round economy that will support more of our kids getting good jobs and raising their own families locally.
A recent example of partnering for increased STEM engagement is Super Science Saturday. In December, Newton’s Road helped the TC Central robotics team double attendance at their annual event to over 800 K-5 students and parents. Our Executive Director and retired astronaut, Greg Johnson, inspired attendees with photos and stories of his space station experiences and his career path. Nicole McGinty, a founding parent with a background in art and design and our new Program Manager, purchased activity supplies and amplified the event marketing. Barb Termaat, formerly with the Cisco Networking Academy technology education program and now our Director of Development and Communications, shared sample STEM gift ideas.
We are a small, experienced, highly collaborative team that in 2019 will primarily focus on:
Go to www.newtonsroad.org to learn more about STEM education and Newton’s Road, and find a listing of STEM learning organizations and programs in our region. Upcoming events and interesting STEM education articles can be found on www.facebook.com/NewtonsRoad.
Contact Barb Termaat If you’re interested in partnering with or supporting Newton’s Road: firstname.lastname@example.org