“I remember not too long ago sitting in this very auditorium, listening to a speaker – much like myself today — asking myself, what does this bring me?” The audience of still impressionable Miami junior high and high school students listened intently as local entrepreneur Luke Kannegaard spoke to them about the importance of a diversified education. A short time later, GHS alumna Lindsey Bryan, now a civil engineer at Freeport-McMoRan, challenged an anonymous GHS student’s paper airplane making skills, saying she could build a better one thanks to her STEM education.
Donna Davis of Expect More Arizona provided the students of Globe and Miami with even more perspective. “During the next decade, the United States’ demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase at four times the rate of all other occupations. However, if current trends continue, by 2018, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia.”
Kannegaard, Bryan and Davis were all part of STEMPaths, a nine-person traveling panel representing career fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math (now commonly known as STEM). STEMPaths is the latest effort spearheaded by Gila County School Superintendent Linda O’Dell to generate more interest in STEM education in Gila County.
“Our future depends on the young people of today,” believes O’Dell. “The world is steeped in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and our students need a solid educational grounding to ensure a successful future for themselves – and all of us!”
O’Dell’s own path toward a county-led STEM campaign began three years ago when she was surfing the Internet. By chance, she came across the Arizona SciTech Festival website. For those who have yet to discover it, the SciTech Festival is a statewide celebration of STEM that takes place every spring. The festival encompasses hundreds of STEM-related events, including expos, workshops, tours, community festivals, academic lectures, and much more. That is when the idea was born to create a STEMFest in and for Gila County. “My initial goal was to raise awareness about the importance of STEM subjects and their relationship to the real world, especially for students, but also for parents and community members,” explains O’Dell.
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