19 June 2009

Mass STEM ~ Business Leaders Unite @ MoS

I was pleased to be invited by Doug Banks of MassHighTech to attend the STEM Business Leaders Breakfast meeting yesterday at the Museum of Science. Orchestrated by JD Chesloff, the Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and colleagues, this was a rallying event to unify business leaders from the Commonwealth around the agenda of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics -- STEM. Several speakers and a panel shared their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities. I was especially impressed with Iaonnis Miaoulis, President of the Museum of Science, for his rallying cry around Technology & Engineering in addition to Science & Math. The core of the gathering was advancing the agenda in Tapping Massachusetts' Potential, namely...
"...double the number of STEM bachelor degrees, with a special focus on currently underrepresented groups, and double the number of STEM teachers, grade 7 through 12, by 2020."
The recommendations include:
  1. Rallying the Public to support STEM
  2. Motivate kids and adults towards STEM careers
  3. Improve K-12 STEM teaching
All sounds nice, but I can't help remember that the parts of my upbringing that inspired me towards engineering and coming to MIT had almost nothing to do with my teachers and my formal K-12 schooling. If anything, they were a waste of time (with, I must say, a handful of very important notable exceptions from among my elementary school and high school teachers). The overwhelmingly important things for me were my hobbies, parents who tolerated and even financially supported these hobbies, friendly neighbors, and a vacant lot across the street to play in. That kind of thing continued at MIT where the actually important things were chosen electives and extracurricular experiences. And, curiously enough, one of my driving reasons for creating Howtoons with Saul and Nick was to capture this DIY-beyond-classrooms ethos and share it with kids everywhere!

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