How to Support the Next STEM Generation

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Innovation drives economic growth. How can society encourage young people to gain skills in science, math and technology fields? The more knowledgeable the next STEM generation is, the better equipped they will be to adapt to rapid changes in IT. 

Businesses should support STEM education. Doing so helps ensure a fresh pool of talent as the next generation graduates and enters the workforce. It also gets company’s names into the local and national community so people have already heard of the brand and are familiar with their culture before applying for a job. 

How can you support STEM education? Fortunately, there are a number of things businesses can do to ensure the youth of today become the groundbreaking inventors of tomorrow.

Donate to Established Scholarships

Already established scholarships exist both nationally and locally for STEM-based programs. One thing you can do to support the next STEM generation is donating to and participating in already established educational scholarships.

Start by contacting your local community college to see what opportunities exist. They may even work with you to start your own scholarship for incoming students. You set the parameters and amounts and method of choosing candidates. 

If you’re short on time, you can check out some well-known scholarships for STEM. Here are four:

Peggy Dixon

The Society of Physics Students offers a two-year scholarship called the Peggy Dixon. Created in memory of Dr. Peggy Dixon, they award a number of students $2,000 per year for up to two years. 

The scholarship is for students who were in a community college two-year program and want to continue their physics education at a four-year institution. 

Applicants must be members of SPS national, transitioning from two-year college and have completed a semester of introductory physics. 

Watermark Scholarship

The Watermark Scholarship offers $5,000 to two students to help them pursue their STEM education or technology-related studies. The opportunity is for United States women at least 18 years old and enrolled as an undergraduate student at an accredited institution in the U.S. 

The student should be a sophomore or higher and major in a STEM field or plan to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math. 

Steinman Scholarship

The NSPE Education Foundation oversees the Steinman Scholarship for engineering students. The award is a $5,000 one for juniors in a four-year ABET-accredited engineering program. A committee evaluates applicants based on grade point average, experience via co-ops or internships, faculty recommendations and an ethics essay. 

Microsoft Computer Science Scholarship for Teachers

Microsoft’s CS Scholarship for middle and high school teachers helps support them in offering better computer science opportunities for kids in their classrooms. The program is more of a professional development opportunity offered to multiple teachers to help them collaborate and work with regional partners to enhance their teaching skills and knowledge of CS. 

Microsoft also offers scholarships for women interested in learning computer science. 

Investing in a scholarship program like any of the ones listed above helps educate upcoming leaders in STEM. 

STEM for girls

Set Up a Makerspace

Not all STEM education happens in a classroom setting. Some fields are better served via hands-on training. Makerspaces offer opportunities for students to try their hand at something such as building a bridge model to scale, working in CAD or applying what they’ve learned to real-life and simulated situations.

Sponsor Unique Projects

Invest your money in things benefiting the community to get your brand name out there. At the same time you’ll help cultivate smarter graduates who might one day work for you. 

One example would be Junior Achievement BizTown in Louisville, Kentucky. Sponsored by a local auto dealer, the indoor venue is set up like a mini town, complete with shops. The goal is to let fifth grade students run the town for the day and learn about business, finance and some of the careers surrounding everyday living. 

Because students must figure out math, the project falls into the STEM sciences. By sponsoring the event, the business gets their name into the community. And encourages better math and business skills in today’s youth. 

Offer Tuition Reimbursement

Every business has a wide variety of work roles. What if the person answering your phones would love to expand their knowledge and learn how to code? Perhaps the night janitor dreams of one day being an engineer.

Offering tuition reimbursement for degrees related to your business helps promote from within and builds your skill base over time. Big corporations such as offer reimbursement if the program applies to their company. So, a shift manager might be able to take some management courses and have them fully paid for via the local community college. 

It’s probably best to offer reimbursement only in STEM topics. You don’t want to pay for someone to take Underwater Basket Weaving 101 unless it somehow teaches new engineering concepts. 

Talk to Students

Send the experts in your company into the schools to talk to students about how exciting the STEM field can be. Offer workshops to teach basic skills and build science capital in the younger generation. conducted a survey with teachers to find out how businesses could support STEM learning. They found a great concern because some kids started at a disadvantage within their families and not being exposed to science-based topics at a young age–their STEM capital. 

Around 60% of children with high science capital had STEM aspirations, but the 32% with low science capital struggled. What if those numbers could be turned around? If technology-based businesses would team up alongside teachers and offer support and programs, all children could have better opportunities and feel they were equipped for STEM careers if that was their leaning. 

Donate Money

Schools often struggle to find the funding for new computer equipment or science lab supplies. Depending on the local budget, schools in your community may not be able to afford even textbooks on the latest developments in STEM.

Businesses can turn this around by investing in local programs and supplying schools and teachers with some of the things they need to thrive. 

One example of a business supporting education would be Vivint and their Gives Back program for school children. They raise money via their employees, profits and donations and supply about 30,000 backpacks filled with school supplies. They also send around 400 students to STEM education camps. 

Brainstorm with local educators and see where the need is. Once you understand the pain points for local students, it’s much easier to come up with a solution and throw your philanthropic efforts toward fixing the problem. 

Be Passionate

The above ideas help you get started on supporting the next STEM generation. If you’re passionate about teaching others to love science, math, technology, computer sciences and more, then you’ll look for ways to get involved. Opportunities are everywhere. You just have to be open to them and passionate enough to invest your time, money and love of all things STEM. 

By Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.