A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Verizon to PS 171 middle school in Harlem, New York. The Verizon Learning Initiative (Verizon Foundation) was giving back to the community in a different form. We were invited to witness, educators, entrepreneurs, and students talk about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and STEM jobs in the future. Students at this school (and 2 other schools in New York) were receiving 10 inch tablets with 2 years of 4G LTE connection (for both school and home use).
The ceremony kicked off with words of wisdom and encouragement from influencers and STEM entrepreneurs. With their speeches they opened the eyes of the students to let them know there is great opportunity in STEM careers.
To get a better idea of STEM and what you can learn, the lunchroom at PS 171 (Patrick Henry middle school) was turned into a tech playground. They had all sorts of activities to engage the students in various tech exercises. These interactive activities show the students how STEM is involved in everyday things. They also learned more about the types of STEM jobs available.
— Analie 📱Gadget Girl (@YummyANA) October 29, 2016
So why was Verizon holding this event?:
“Low income students are at a learning disadvantage. According to Pew Research, roughly one-third (31.4%) of households whose annual incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17, do not have a high-speed internet connection at home. With the recent growth in STEM-skilled jobs, and the underrepresentation of minorities in these fields, it’s clear we need to do more to level the playing field for students from minority and underserved communities. Through Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, we develop measurable STEM education programs that provide students with technology and hands-on learning to help build the confidence they need to become tomorrow’s creators.”
Of course the students were excited to receive their new tablets from Verizon. But it was great to see them encouraged and genuinely interested in future careers in STEM. For many students who don’t have access to the internet outside of school, or access to the internet somewhere besides a smartphone; being able to research and do homework on 10″ tablet is beneficial. I feel doing research on a larger screen is better in these environments.
STEM Entrepreneurs and Influencers (Information from Verizon):
- Clarence Wooten, entrepreneur – Wooten couldn’t afford video games when he was young, and then he discovered that he could copy games on a computer. Today he is a millionaire and the creator of Image Café, the first hub of pre-built websites for small businesses.
- Jaylen D. Bledsoe, Tech Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker – 17-year-old Jaylen started his own Information Technology Consulting business when he was 12 years old, and had 150 contractors working for him by the time he was 14. Today, he consults for Fortune 500 companies including Facebook, Google and Walt Disney World.
- Cynthia Erenas, TED Talk Speaker at age 14 –Erenas wasn’t even sure she would graduate from HS, but heard engineers made a lot of money, so she entered and won a national robotics competition with a little help from will.i.am, and became a TED speaker.
- Jason Mares, Columbia University Student – Jason started working with Dean Kamen’s First Robotics Competition Team around the middle of his sophomore year, and by senior year he was the main student leader on the team.
- Science: Virtual Reality Universe to immerse students in the worlds of physical and life sciences.
- Technology: See Your Future, with a short quiz to uncover their potential STEM career and see their individual photos come to life in a STEM inspired digital jumbo mosaic art installation.
- Engineering: The Great BB-8™ Race – Students will apply robotics and engineering to an app controlled BB-8™ droid.
- Math: How Do You Stat Up? Students will learn how variables in the quadratic function can help them sink the perfect basketball free throw shot!