Every girl deserves a bright future

From Backpacks to Briefcases

By Vincent Lyles
President/ CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milw.

Vincent Lyles

Vincent Lyles

Building interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is increasingly important for our youth and the future of our local economy. Of all 21st Century jobs, STEM related occupations are projected to grow more than any other field: 1 million between 2012 and 2022.

Not only will there be more jobs in STEM fields, but work in these fields proved to have higher wages than the median for all occupations as of May 2013 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

This type of work usually requires the use of computers and technology, but the available jobs vary quite a bit. Specifically, STEM careers may include:

• Microbiologists
• Web developers
• Math teachers
• Computer programmers
• Architects
• Astronomers
• Forensic science technicians

This list just scratches the surface of available jobs related to STEM. These careers are challenging and rewarding and it is essential to the future of our community that our youth are exposed to these job skills and learning opportunities.

STEM in Milwaukee

Milwaukee has rallied around efforts to invest in STEM learning for its youth, including through Project Lead the Way and the Urban School Aquaponics Initiative.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national program that focuses on hands-on learning to connect students to STEM.

Milwaukee has the largest concentration of students participating in PLTW, with approximately 5,500 middle and high school students participating at 30+ Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). To see the full list of MPS schools offering Project Lead the Way, visit: http://www5.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/school/selections/category/project-lead-the-way/

Project Lead the Way’s vision is “to ignite the spark of American ingenuity, creativity and imagination within all our students.”

The Urban School Aquaponics Initiative through MPS received significant funding in 2008 from the NEA Foundation and AT&T Foundation to strengthen STEM instruction. The foundations focused their work in rural Ohio and Milwaukee. Specifically in our city, the Initiative worked with a selected group of MPS teachers to create a unique aquaponics program to provide safe, local and sustainable food services while deepening the engagement with local community members.

In partnership with Growing Power, Sweet Water Organics and UW-Milwaukee’ Great Lakes Water Institute, MPS teachers gained professional development experiences to bring back to their classrooms. Equally important, students gained hands-on experience in urban farming and valuable STEM exposure.

It was announced this past January that the program would receive $98,000 in additional funding from the two foundations to expand to five new schools and reach 1,500 MPS students over two years.

As for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, we ensure that all of our 41,000+ members have access to STEM learning in the Club after school.

The first hour of Club programming is dedicated to helping kids with their homework and subject areas, including offering math and science activities.

Boys & Girls Clubs also offers members the chance to participate in FIRST LEGO League (FLL), which introduces them to basic and advanced STEM principles.

Participants specifically work with trained staff and professionals in the community to build robots and compete against other teams in the state at an annual competition.

FLL continues to grow, thanks in large part to the support from Rockwell Automation, with eight Boys & Girls Clubs hosting nine teams last year.

In partnership with Milwaukee Public Museum, members also have the chance to participate in CREATE, Creating Relevant Education in Astronomy through Experience, to learn about planetary science.

Through the instruction and guidance of museum staff, students will create their own planetary show. The program features field trips to other observatories and planetariums as well as visits from astronomy experts.

At the end of the program, students will present their planetary shows to peers, mentoring younger students and inspiring them to pursue scientific fields.

Club members also take part in several field trips throughout the year to local Museums, including Milwaukee Public Museum and Discovery World, to engage in innovative exhibits and STEM learning activities.

April marks the Inventors and Innovation Month; take the time to expose your kids, students, nieces or nephews to STEM.

You never know who will make the next big discovery.

Upcoming Community Events

April 29 – iFair at Harley- Davidson University Building, 9am – 2pm

This event focuses on career exploration in information technology and engineering.

It is hosted by MPS, Washington High School of Information Technology and Harley-Davidson.

May 1 – 7th Annual Milwaukee Schools District Science Fair at the Milwaukee County Zoo

Until my next column, you’re invited to visit a Boys & Girls Club nearest you.

Visit our website at www.boysgirlsclubs.org to find a location. Keep up-to-date about Boy & Girls Clubs and other youth-related news through www.facebook.com/bgcmilwaukee, on Twitter at @bgcmilwaukee, or at www.boysgirlsclubs.org.