Syracuse is a STEM City

I spent the day with leaders in Syracuse discussing how to get more science, technology, engineering and math—STEM—into all kinds of expanded learning opportunities. It was a wonderfully diverse crowd, including people from the City of Syracuse school district, Syracuse University, the YWCA, Girls Inc., local community partners, and the BOCES. This is one of a series of orientations around the state to begin building a network of leaders committed to ensuring that all youth have access to high-quality STEM experiences outside of the traditional school day. (We had other STEM events in Corning and Long Island the same day.)

One of the highlights of the orientation is TASC’s Science Manager Lisa Mielke guiding the meeting attendees in hands-on science activities. The take-away? A piece of paper, a few paper clips, and the right instructions can get adults laughing, standing on chairs, and throwing pieces of paper in the air to test how to build the best “helicopter.” You can easily imagine how it could engage kids  and doesn’t require an expert to lead.

The day ended with the news of Steve Jobs’ death. The TV obituaries talked about how he was adopted, came from a working class background, and how his interest in electronics was sparked by the opportunity he had to spend time at Hewlett-Packard as a student and eventually to work there as a summer intern. None of the obituaries mentioned his science test scores or prowess in learning science content—they’re talking about his vision, his creativity, leadership, and relentless pursuit of excellent technological products. How do we help kids get there?

I’m happy to know that there are some folks in Syracuse who are asking the same question.

Apple's website pays tribute to Steve Jobs this week.

Apple's website pays tribute to Steve Jobs this week.

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About Saskia Traill

Saskia is TASC’s Vice President for Policy and Research. She leads our policy development and advocacy work, oversees independent evaluation of TASC initiatives and works with our team of TASC researchers investigating the most urgent questions in the field of expanded learning opportunities. She came to TASC and New York from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland.