Overcoming the STEM Opportunity Gap

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By Donald E. Bossi, President of FIRST

Our communities – and our classrooms – are more diverse than ever before. In fact, Generation Z and Millennials, who make up nearly half (48 percent) of the United States’ population, are more multicultural in their race and ethnic compositions than previous generations. As demographics continue to shift, so does the opportunity to build a uniquely diverse and innovative workforce – one that can truly address the challenges facing today’s world. However, for this to happen, the faces in the professional pipeline must change and mirror those of our schools and neighborhoods.

As educators, parents, and business leaders, we have a responsibility to offer all students – especially those who are underserved and underrepresented in STEM – equitable opportunities and pathways to success as contributing members of the workforce. It’s no secret that employers are looking for young talent with STEM skills and digital literacy. Moving forward, nearly every career – whether in product development, manufacturing, marketing, or the arts – will be more reliant on tech skills. By 2021, 69 percent of U.S. executives expect to choose job candidates with data science skills over those without. The students best prepared to fill these roles and find success after graduating high school will be those who experience meaningful STEM engagement opportunities throughout their K-12 years.

The foundation of any prosperous society lies in providing accessible advancement opportunities for its citizens. For today’s students, hurdles abound, whether financial, cultural, or geographic. Our responsibility is to ensure all kids have access to the tools they need to secure sustainable, living-wage jobs. Critical to accomplishing this is early exposure to high-quality, hands-on, STEM learning experiences that engage and inspire students. An example of where this type of early exposure is already being offered and is making an impact can be seen in the efforts of a nonprofit organization that I lead called FIRST. FIRST offers a progression of programs beginning at age 6 and continuing through high school that engages kids in a series of mentor-guided robotics competitions and innovation challenges, connecting STEM learning to exciting, real-world activities. In addition to STEM exposure, students in FIRST programs meet mentor role models and learn about innovation, entrepreneurship, and 21st-century skills like teamwork, collaboration, and critical thinking. Research has shown FIRST programs are game-changers for kids, opening them up to a world of opportunity. Additionally, STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants help make these programs available and accessible to underserved communities and underrepresented students, while committed supporters also make more than $50 million in scholarships available annually to graduating FIRST seniors to pursue higher education.

Schools are also recognizing the value that curriculum and environmental changes can have in making a positive impact on student advancement. Across the country, school systems are working hard to ensure all kids feel welcome, have a voice, and receive an equal shot at finding success. In a model worth emulating, a Ypsilanti, Michigan-based school with a large population of underserved students created STEM-centric programs based on the concept and ethos of FIRST. Since making this format change, the school’s graduation rate has jumped from 69 percent to 97 percent. Daily attendance is up from 84 percent to 92 percent, and suspensions have plummeted from 35 percent to the low single digits. At Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College, the STEM-focused curriculum is making tangible differences in the lives of students. One young man overcame a troubled home life to become valedictorian of his class, while another student, dealing with the emotional ramifications of her mother being deported, found a place to explore her interest in science. Thanks to the school’s changes and new concentration on STEM, students can pursue their passions in an affirming environment and gain the skills they’ll need in the modern workforce.

The responsibility to empower students from diverse backgrounds to succeed doesn’t rest solely on nonprofits and schools; it also falls on companies. As a management consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton understands this, having recently refreshed its values to include “Collective Ingenuity” or the ability to harness the power of diversity. Booz Allen Hamilton reflects Collective Ingenuity in its hiring practices, its community-support efforts – including supporting many FIRST teams – and how it approaches client challenges. They and other companies have a critical role to play in bolstering diversity in STEM, whether by providing scholarships to underserved and underrepresented students, offering relatable mentors for female and minority students, or awarding internships to students who otherwise wouldn’t have those prospects. They realize we shouldn’t be leaving talent on the table and are taking the necessary steps to ensure we don’t.

Together, businesspeople, educators, and nonprofit leaders can ensure we aren’t ignoring the potential of our diverse student population when it comes to STEM outcomes. That starts with investing in your community: Get to know the young faces in your local schools and neighborhoods. Find out what they need for success, and connect them with resources and youth-serving programs – like FIRST – that can help them get there. We need kids of all backgrounds, capabilities, and social circumstances to contribute and participate in addressing the world’s toughest challenges. With equitable access to opportunity, relevant mentorship, and engagement, any student can build a foundation for a bright future.

WonderWorks Syracuse Holds WonderKids Event and School Visits with Astronaut

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SYRACUSE, New York – On June 16, 2018, WonderWorks Syracuse held an out-of-this-world WonderKids event, featuring a special guest and awarding students who had been nominated from area schools for their achievements. The event gave nominees who were picked for the WonderKids award and the public the chance to meet and greet with Dr. Donald Thomas, an astronaut who shared his experiences with the group of having completed four missions to space.

“This was a great event. Everyone who attended had a wonderful time, it was very exciting to meet Dr. Thomas and learn about  his missions to space,” says Nicole Montgomery, director of operations at WonderWorks Destiny. “We also get to recognize students in our area. We are very proud of their accomplishments and happy to honor them.”

Wonder Kids is an event that allows educators to recognize their students’ achievements throughout the year. Teachers were asked to nominate students who show extraordinary characteristics in and outside of the classroom.  All attendees receive prizes and free admissions to WonderWorks the day of the event, and are two grand prize winners selected for each category; the following were the winners of each category:

Academic Excellence:

Grade range 1st – 5th grades – Grace Mclean

Grade range 6th – 12th  – grades – Grace O’Neil

Service to Community:

Grade range 1st – 5th grades – Caitlyn Cook

Grade range 6th – 12th grades – Jose Mateo

Future Scientist:

Grade range 1st – 5th grades – Jacquelyn Gangemi

Grade range 6th – 12th grades – Tristan Ellerbruch

The WonderKids Program is held each year, honoring kids from the WonderWorks Destinycommunity who have been nominated by their teacher for various areas of  student achievement. There are three areas where kids will be honored, including academic excellence, service to community, and future scientist. All students receive a certificate for their achievements and bags of goodies from businesses that partner with WonderWorks. All nominees alsoget  free entrance into the WonderWorks the day of the event. Grand prize winners received large prize packages including items such WonderWorks annual passes, Destiny Day Passes, Comic-Con passes, Bears from Build-a-Bear, Dave & Busters prize packs, and more.

Dr. Thomas, who was the guest speaker at the event, also spent time visiting local schools on Thursday and Friday, June 14-15, 2018. He visited Huntington, Syracuse Academy of Sciences, Bellevue Elementary, Roberts, Delaware, and Syracuse Latin. His mission is to share his out-of-this-world experiences and inspire kids to learn more about STEM-related topics (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Selected by NASA in January 1990, he became an astronaut in July 1991. During his career there he spent time in the Safety, Operations, and Payloads Branches of the Astronaut Offices. He was also a spacecraft communicator for several shuttle missions, spent time in various other key roles, and went on four space flights.

“Lots of people got to meet Dr. Thomas and get their picture taken with him,” added Montgomery. “We are already looking forward to our  next WonderKids event.”

WonderWorks offers a variety of fun family friendly interactive activities to engage in, including a laser tag arena, 4D XD Motion Theater, Canyon Climb Adventure, and WonderZones – offering a variety of areas to explore, such as natural disasters, physical challenges, light and sound zones, imagination lab, and space discovery. They also offer a Sky Tykes ropes course. WonderWorks’ trademark is “I think, therefore I STEM.” They are focused on providing visitors with a variety of hands-on STEM-related activities.

WonderWorks DestinyAbout WonderWorks WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park located in Destiny USA, combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. There is something unique and challenging for all ages. Adventures include: The Hurricane Shack, feel the power of 71 mph hurricane–force winds, The Bubble Lab, make huge, life–sized bubbles, The Astronaut Training Gyro, get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity, Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is also home to two indoor ropes courses, Canyon Climb, which is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course, and Sky Tykes, which is a confidence booster climb for small children. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Opens daily at 10 a.m. wonderworksdestiny.com.

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Tips for Parents to Help their Kids Avoid Summer Brain Drain

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Alcatraz Museum

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee—Some people call it summer brain drain, others call it the summer learning loss. No matter what you call it, experts tend to agree that most kids tend to lose some of what they have learned over summer break.

In fact, the Brookings Institution reports that a child loses around a month’s worth of school year learning over the course of the summer. When school starts back, the backslide may become a challenge for some kids because their classes haven’t accounted for the loss in learning. The good news is there are things parents can do to help their kids avoid the summer brain drain!

“Keeping kids actively learning over the summer months is important so that their minds stays sharp and they remain in learning mode,” says Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East. “We get many parents who bring their kids into the museum as a way to sneak in some learning in a fun environment during vacation.”

Here are some ways that Alcatraz East helps keep kids learning all summer long:
•  Safety – Being at home over the summer, kids often have more unsupervised time on their hands. The safety stops in the museum are sponsored by the National Crime Prevention Council and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and help kids learn about Internet safety, cyberbullying, and interacting with strangers on the phone or at home.
•  History – While it may not seem like history, kids and teenagers have little or no memory of the events of 9/11. The 9/11 Gallery at the museum gives parents the opportunity to share their first-hand accounts of this historic and life-changing event. Adults and children alike have been sharing their memories on the museum’s 9/11 remembrance wall, and you can, too.
•  Science – Did you know that the fingerprints of children are chemically different than those of adults which causes them to disappear faster? Kids can explore the world of forensic science and scan their fingerprint to see if they are a loop, arch, or whorl.
•  Careers in Service – The Law Enforcement Gallery covers the different jobs in law enforcement and the tools used to keep our communities safe. Kids can learn about what it takes to join the force and try their hand at driving a police car driving simulator. Displays also include Neighborhood Watch and the origins of 911 call centers.
•  Fun – Don’t forget just straight up fun is important too! Kids and adults alike love The Heist laser maze, where you see who in your family is best able to slip past a security system.
•  Additional learning – Once you visit the museum, take note of the things your child takes an interest in. Then stop off at the local library and find books and movies on those topics. This will help them continue the learning once they get home, by giving them a chance to explore the topics more. You can also give them projects to do based on the things they have chosen to learn more about, that include writing, reading, art, and creating crafts and models. If they’re in the Boy or Girl Scouts, check out the Alcatraz East website for when forensic workshops for badges are offered.

“Kids often thrive when they are exposed to new experiences, which creates great learning opportunities,” added Vaccarello. “This summer, be sure to expose your kids to new things. Bring them into the museum, giving them a chance to have fun as they continue learning, and avoid the summer learning setback.”

At the Alcatraz East Crime Museum, children can learn about pirates, legends of the old west, famous cold cases, what a police lineup is like, how to solve crimes, and what it takes to be a police officer.

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They are located near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The museum offers a wide array of crime information, including notorious crimes and criminals, historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, crime scene investigation, crime detection and fighting, and information on how help avoid being a victim of crime. There are also many activities that are kid friendly, such as learning to tie knots and how to crack a safe. Items currently on display include the O.J. Simpson white Bronco from the infamous police chase, and outlaw Jesse James’ holster.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, log online: alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit alcatrazeast.com.

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Source:
Brookings Institution. Summer learning loss. brookings.edu/research/summer-learning-loss-what-is-it-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/

How Today’s Google Doodle, Dr. Virginia Apgar, Made A Big Difference

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Today is the birthday of Dr. Virginia Apgar, who has helped make many, many, many birthdays possible.  The pioneering doctor lived from June 7, 1909, to August 7, 1974, and is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. You can’t really go through medical school without knowing Apgar’s name, at least her last name. Here’s why.

In 1952, Dr. Apgar unveiled the Apgar score. Besides being her last name, Apgar stands for the following five domains “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration” of the score. Basically 1 minute and 5 minutes after a baby is born, doctors, nurses, and midwives will score the baby from 0 to 2 (with 2 being the best) for each of these domains. The following table from the KidsHealth website shows how this scoring is done:

You then sum the 5 domain scores to get a sense of the baby’s overall health. If you do the math, you will see that the total score can range from a 0 to a 10 with a higher score being better. A baby rarely scores a 10, because most babies have at least blue hands and feet when they are born (hey, life ain’t easy and not everyone is the best at everything). A score of 7 or higher is normal. Lower than 7 merits immediate medical attention such as potentially oxygen, clearing out the airway, or physical stimulation to get the heart beating faster as the U.S. National Library of Medicine describes. Time may be all that the baby needs, since low scores at 1 minute frequently become normal at 5 minutes. Sometimes a doctor, nurse, or midwife may check an Apgar score 10 minutes after birth if any questions remain.

Of course, an Apgar score is only an immediate assessment and usually does not forecast either good or bad health in the future. So putting your good Apgar score on your resume will impress no one. A high Apgar score doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be beer and Skittles from thereon. Similarly babies with low initial Apgar scores can go on to have very healthy lives.

While it may seem routine now, using a standardized way to check a baby’s health was not standard practice before Dr. Apgar invented the score. Newborn care was a lot more haphazard, making survival among infants, especially those born prematurely, more challenging.

It was an accomplishment for Dr. Apgar even to get to a position to make such an important invention. Back when she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1929 and then from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1933, the “Apgar” score for the medical careers of women and minorities was very, very low. Very few were even allowed into medical school, let alone progress in their careers afterwards. But Dr. Apgar was a persistent pioneer, eventually becoming the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor at her medical alma mater in 1949. Things aren’t smooth sailing for women and minorities today in medical and academic careers. But you can thank Dr. Apgar for at least making some initial inroads.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

It’s Time To Prioritize Diversity Across Tech

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There have been calls for more diversity across numerous industries lately: movies, TV, sports, publishing, and more. Discriminatory hiring practices are not a thing of the past, as many of us would like to believe. Although movements like to rectify discriminatory behavior and hiring practices, leaders across every industry must still spearhead new solutions to make their fields equal, accessible, and safe.

One industry where the need for diverse representation and hiring is apparent is technology. Technology impacts and is used by us every almost hour of every day. Currently, men hold 76% of technical jobs, and 95% of the tech workforce is white. There are so many new ideas and developments living in the brains of people who have not been given a chance to act on them, so why let technology be created by limited points of view? We need to add depth to the pool from which tech is born, for everyone’s benefit.

Tech companies control almost every facet of daily life, from how we communicate to the ways in which we travel and, even, how we buy our groceries. Their power is seemingly infinite, which is all the reason more why they must make a concerted effort to champion diverse voices from within. As pointed out in a recent Forbes piece, “The people creating this technology have the power to influence how it works, and that’s too big a responsibility for any single demographic to have full control. A lack of diverse ideas and representation could lead to further disparities between gender, race, and class.”

Diversity isn’t just important for the tech itself—it’s important for the people who make and use technology. According to Information is Beautiful, the population of the United States is roughly split evenly between genders (51% women to 49% men). However, when you look at the top tech companies, their employee gender ratios do not reflect this.

The same Information is Beautiful studyexpounded on some of the foremost tech companies’ gender gaps: Facebook, for example, consisted of 33% women in 2016. Some of the companies that were closer to 50/50 include LinkedIn (42% women) and Pinterest (44% women). In addition, only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

WonderWorks Syracuse Invites Public to Meet Astronaut, Participate in WonderKids Ceremony

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Astronaut Girl

WonderWorks Syracuse is inviting the public to join them for a rare opportunity to meet an astronaut. They will be hosting their 5th Annual WonderKids Awards Program ceremony on June 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm. The event will be held at WonderWorks, located at 9090 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse, New York.

The event will feature an award ceremony and a guest speaker visit from Dr. Donald Thomas, a former NASA astronaut, with whom people can meet and get their photo taken with. Those attending will also be able to learn about his experiences having logged over 1,040 hours in space.

“This is going to be a very exciting day for everyone who attends,” says Nicole Montgomery, director of operations at WonderWorks Destiny. “We are happy to meet and hear from Dr. Thomas, as well as recognize those students who have been picked for this year’s WonderKids awards.”

The WonderKids Program is held each year, honoring kids from the community who have been chosen to win an award in the area of student achievement. There are three areas where kids will be honored, including academic excellence, service to community, and future scientist. The winners of the program will get a free entrance into the WonderWorks Syracuse summer camp, which focuses on STEM-themed days, including Fidgety Animal Discovery, Tech Eggstravaganza Day, Truck Loads of Slime Day, Going Wild with the Wild Day, and Explosions of Pain Day.

Dr. Thomas, who will be the guest speaker at the event, will also Dr. Don Thomasspend time visiting local schools on Thursday and Friday, June 14-15, 2018. His mission is to share his out-of-this-world experiences and inspire kids to learn more about STEM-related topics (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Selected by NASA in January 1990, he became an astronaut in July 1991. During his career there he spent time in the Safety, Operations, and Payloads Branches of the Astronaut Offices. He was also a spacecraft communicator for several shuttle missions, spent time in various other key roles, and went on four space flights.

“Everyone who visits WonderWorks during this event can have a chance to meet an astronaut,” added Montgomery. “That’s going to be a pretty special day for us, the kids who are proud to present awards to, and everyone who stops in to check it all out.”

WonderWorks offers a variety of fun family friendly interactive activities to engage in, including a laser tag arena, 4D XD Motion Theater, Canyon Climb Adventure, and WonderZones – offering a variety of areas to explore, such as natural disasters, physical challenges, light and sound zones, imagination lab, and space discovery. They also offer a Sky Tykes ropes course. WonderWorks’ trademark is “I think, therefore I STEM.” They are focused on providing visitors with a variety of hands-on STEM-related activities.

WonderWorksWonderWorks opens daily at 10 a.m. For more information regarding the anniversary party, anniversary specials, or visiting WonderWorks, visit the site at: wonderworksonline.com

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park located in Destiny USA, combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. There is something unique and challenging for all ages. Adventures include: The Hurricane Shack, feel the power of 71 mph hurricane–force winds, The Bubble Lab, make huge, life–sized bubbles, The Astronaut Training Gyro, get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity, Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is also home to two indoor ropes courses, Canyon Climb, which is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course, and Sky Tykes, which is a confidence booster climb for small children. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Opens daily at 10 a.m. wonderworksdestiny.com.

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MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED”, the award-winning documentary about women leading the cannabis industry, debuts in San Jose

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Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and other female “ganjaprenuers” show how legal cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated, pioneering “Puffragettes™”.

The Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium starts at 1:00pm, culminating with the screening of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed at the Summit on June 10th at 7:30 pm and a Q/A with the Executive Producer/Director Windy Borman. The film features a powerful interview from Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and Californian women Jane West, Lindsay Robinson, Julianna Carella, Mara Gordon, Lindsay Robinson, and Amanda Reiman.

Film Director/Producer Windy Borman explores how marijuana is the first new industry to emerge in the 21st century led by women. By looking at the intersection of gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability, Borman explores how cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated and pioneering women she calls “Puffragettes™” (as in Pot + Suffragette).

“This is a ground floor opportunity to make connections and collaborate / create technology applications for a new and fast growing industry,” said WITI’s Chairwoman and Founder Carolyn Leighton. “This Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium vividly demonstrates the leadership roles that women are playing in this burgeoning industry and how they are shaping the technologies that support its growth. We expect this event to drive networking opportunities for business, education, and research, and we’re excited to offer it to our Women in Technology Summit attendees.

Tickets can be purchased at: http://www.witi.com/maryjanes

“From farms to labs to dispensaries and beyond, the film sheds light on the female researchers and entrepreneurs blazing a trail in today’s legal cannabis industry. Through interviews with scientists, doctors, lawyers, activists, growers and bakers, I learned cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated, pioneering women,” says director Windy Borman.

MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition and Borman’s own assumptions about the plant. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with the industry’s “Women of Weed”, Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join the Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium, hosted by Women in Technology Summit as we discover how they’re also changing the world.

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Press Links: “Mary Jane: The Women of Weed”

Website:  http://MaryJanesFilm.com

Facebook:  http://Facebook.com/MaryJanesFilm

Twitter and Instagram:  @MaryJanesFilm

Official Trailer: YouTube

Press Links: Women in Technology Summit

Website: http://www.witi.com/summit

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WITISummit

Twitter and Instagram: @WITISummit

About MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED:

Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join filmmaker Windy Borman as she explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition, her own relationship to the plant, and the stereotypes surrounding it. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today, Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

About Producer / Writer / Director Windy Borman

Windy Borman, MST, is a multi-award-winning film Director and Producer, as well as the founder of DVA Productions. Her recent projects include directing and producing the 10-time award-winning film, “The Eyes of Thailand” (narrated by Ashley Judd), and producing “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia”, which premiered at Sundance and on HBO. Other credits include producing performances for Dr. Maya Angelou and Margaret Cho, directing “The Vagina Monologues”, and writing for Kindland, Takepart.com and Indiewire: Women and Hollywood.

About WITI:

Founded in 1989 by Carolyn Leighton, WITI (Women in Technology International) is a leading worldwide authority on women in business and technology. For nearly 30 years, WITI has consistently been a clear voice advocating women’s contributions to the tech industry, inspiring them to pursue STEM careers and actively working with corporate partners to create a culture of equality. To learn more, please visit http://www.witi.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Join the conversation at WITI 2018!

Visionaries Designing Tomorrow’s Tech Markets and Cultures Today

Join us at the 24th Annual Women in Technology Summit, where women from around the world join forces for three special days to connect, collaborate, and commit to helping each other succeed in the technology industry. Held in the heart of Silicon Valley, the WITI Summit draws over 1,100+ tech-savvy women and key male allies, along with high-profile industry partners.

Special Offer For Your Company
Use Promo Code comsum18 and Save $200 Off Full Conference Registration.

Register Today!

Schedule Highlights Include

  • FOUNDER’S RECEPTION
  • TASTE OF TECHNOLOGY MIXER
  • SPEED NETWORKING
  • COACHING CIRCLES
  • STARTUP VILLAGE
  • ARTISTECH CAFE
  • BUSINESS & TECH EXPO
  • CAREER PAVILION
  • 2018 WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY HALL OF FAME AWARDS BANQUET
  • CANNABIS BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY SYMPOSIUM

To register for WITI please visit: witi.com/conferences/2018/summit 

Could Weed Legalization Encourage More Women To Go Into STEM Fields?

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african american woman working in lab

Women are embracing the business and scientific side of weed. Could legalizing cannabis be the way to encourage more women to go into STEM fields?

For decades, researchers have charted the dismal percentage of women who go into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Generally, careers in these fields require a college degree and correlate to a higher income. According to the Department of Education, STEM majors earn $65,000 annually on average, which is $15,500 more than non-STEM degree holders. They also have higher employment rates.

Though the majority of people who graduate from university are women, only 30 percent of STEM degree holders are female per the Department of Commerce. This trend continues after college. Women held 40 percent of all U.S. jobs but only 24 percent of STEM jobs in 2017.

This translates to a lower income and lower rate of employment for women. Surprisingly, this inequality hasn’t really improved since the 1970s.

Today, we have the opportunity to change the tide with a new industry: cannabis. Women are increasingly involved in the scientific and business sides of weed, but will this transfer over to other industries? Could cannabis legalization be the way to encourage more women to go into STEM fields? Here’s what we know about women and STEM careers, and how the cannabis industry could make a difference.

Women Are Less Likely To Work In STEM Fields

A lot of ink has been spilled on the continued absence of women in science, tech, engineering, and math careers. This has a lot to do with societal perceptions of these career fields.

In ‘Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different from Men?’, Georgetown University researchers found that women were more likely to be responsive to bad grades in STEM courses than men or women in other fields. From childhood, women are conditioned, both consciously and unconsciously, to think they will be bad at math and science, so they’re hard on themselves when they perceive the stereotype to be true.

STEM fields’ male dominance is a vicious cycle: we perceive these careers as masculine because we keep describing them as such. Professor Adriana D. Kugler, from Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy explains to Inside Higher Ed, “Society keeps telling us that STEM fields are masculine fields, that we need to increase the participation of women in STEM fields, but that kind of sends a signal that it’s not a field for women, and it kind of works against keeping women in these fields.”

In this way, education initiatives designed to promote female involvement in STEM fields could have the opposite effect. By telling women they need help pursuing these subjects, society suggests that women are worse at them than men.

Is The Marijuana Industry Any Different?

The stereotypical stoner is usually male. But does the perception of weed culture dissuade women working in the cannabis industry?

It would seem that it does not. 36 percent of marijuana industry executives are female, and it’s only going up. The national average for female executives across all industries is 22 percent. Though 36 is far from half, there’s still time for this new industry to become a leader in gender equality.

Women are also heavily involved in cannabis science. A survey of 632 cannabis professionals found that women account for 63 percent of leadership positions in cannabis potency and safety testing labs. Furthermore, this survey discovered that almost half of leaders in edibles were women.

Compared to the 24 percent of women who hold STEM field jobs nationally, marijuana testing is breaking the mold when it comes to women in science.

Why More Women Are Working In Cannabis

Women are turning to cannabis because it’s a new industry, and one of the fastest growing in the nation. Becca Foster, who works for marijuana product retailer Healthy Headie, told High Times, “It’s a new chance for many women who have been in the corporate world who couldn’t get to the next level.”

Other women in the cannabis industry echoed Ms. Foster’s comments. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association Taylor West explained this phenomenon. “In long-established industries,” she said, “you have generations of business that has been dominated by men, and that creates structures of advancement that are dominated by men.”

The Marijuana Industry Could Be the Catalyst for More Gender Equality

Programs aimed to promote women in STEM fields fuel the perception that women need help succeeding in science and math. In turn, exposure to female leaders in cannabis could encourage more women to study science more generally.

And why wouldn’t women break into STEM careers through cannabis? More women are smoking weed than ever. In some states, women even talk about weed more than men. Plus, weed has specific benefits for women including its use for menopause, endometriosis, and PMS.

Support for medical marijuana for children is also growing. In turn, mothers working towards are marijuana policy reform. For example, the Louisiana Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism rallied at their state capital for more medical marijuana access.

Continue onto High Times to read the complete article.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

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Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

STEM: K-8 Engineering

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STEM-for-kids

As more K-8 programs focus on science, technology, engineering, and math, teachers are finding that chaos creates learning opportunities.

The project was not exactly going as planned—Carrie Allen had a classroom overrun with fruit flies. Her first graders were studying composting, and they were getting more of an ecology lesson than they’d expected. But at Richfield STEM School, an inquiry-based K–5 school in Richfield, Minnesota, both teachers and students take fruit-fly invasions in stride.

“The kids came up with the idea that we should make traps for the fruit flies,” explains Allen. Students then tested to see which traps worked the best—giving them a chance to incorporate the classic engineering-design process (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve).

“I can’t imagine not teaching like this anymore,” says Allen. “It just opens up so many other possibilities for the kids.”

STEM has been a hot topic lately, as politicians and business leaders worry over the lack of qualified workers in the sciences and engineering. Though much public discussion focuses on higher education and high school curriculum, educators and others are realizing that for students to really get hooked on the sciences, STEM instruction has to start early. That’s where Richfield STEM and other newly minted K–8 programs come into play. Elementary educators need not fear the shift in emphasis. In fact, as generalists, they are uniquely qualified to lead inquiry-based STEM lessons.

Blur the Lines

As the head of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, Yvonne Ng is used to taking the intimidation factor out of STEM. She has found that one of the main challenges for teachers new to the curriculum is overcoming their discomfort with math, science, and, especially, engineering. The best STEM instruction is open-ended and inquiry-based, but this format, she says, can seem chaotic to elementary teachers.

Monica Foss advises that teachers embrace the chaos. “It’s always messy in here,” says Foss, an engineering specialist at Cedar Park Elementary STEM School in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Teachers need to let go of the idea that they always have to have the answer, says Foss. “They have to be willing to live with mess and muddiness.”

Good STEM instruction blurs the lines between subject areas. As a consequence, STEM projects can be integrated into lessons in language arts, culture, and history.

In the Richfield district, all students are required to go through a unit on Duke Ellington; the STEM school adds another level, explains Principal Joey Page. After listening to Ellington’s music, students answer questions such as “How does sound work?” or “How did they make that instrument?” Page says the school is hoping to have students take apart one of its decommissioned pianos as part of the unit.

Hilburn Academy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, is in its second year of making the transition from a traditional curriculum to a STEAM school (the A is for arts). Elements of the traditional classroom remain, says Principal Gregory Ford, but the engineering-design process is used for all subjects. For example, guided reading groups may be tasked with coming up with solutions for a problem posed in their informational texts.

The biggest challenge for Ford’s teachers is finding time for open-ended learning. So they, like their students, work in groups to find solutions.

“It requires lots and lots of planning and collaboration with your teammates,” Ford says. “There’s really no existing inventory of these highly integrated STEAM lessons.”

And how does Hilburn Academy define STEAM?

“STEAM is a philosophy of education, not a program,” Ford says. “It is not the ‘what’ of curriculum; it is actually the ‘how.’”

Look Outside the iPad

It takes work to develop a STEM program. But districts don’t have to be flush with cash and expensive digital technology to implement it.

“Pretty much anything around us is technology,” says Richfield’s Allen. “That’s one thing we’re teaching the kids, too: Everything around us was created or engineered to solve a problem.”

Sophisticated STEM projects can be built around a simple tool such as a temperature probe, says David Carter, coauthor of a number of lab manuals, including Elementary Science With Vernier. For example, third graders could set out to create a vessel that keeps water as warm as possible. The science part comes into play as students learn the concept of heat transfer; the engineering side involves designing the best thermos. The temperature sensor itself allows students to record data, track their experiments, and improve their designs.

The motion-sensor project is another favorite of Carter’s. “They get the concept that this graph is telling a story,” he says. “They’re seeing this mathematical concept.” That, he explains, gets to the real advantage of STEM: “It’s easy because kids love it.”

At Dr. Albert Einstein Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, technology can be as simple as a doorstop. Teachers often struggled to prop open heavy classroom doors, so they tasked students to design a better way to do it. (One early version was a sand-filled water bottle flattened in the middle. Another version made use of a cork-and-magnet device.) Tracy Espiritu, a science coach at the K–8 STEAM school, says a lot of teachers start with the question: “What is technology?”
The school has three criteria for teaching STEAM (here, the A is for architecture): Projects should be about solving a problem; students must apply the engineering-­design process; and technology should be considered a resource, not a subject.

Perhaps the most important lesson they learn along the way: Failure is part of the process.

Rethink Failure

The key to STEM (or STEAM) education is reinforcing the engineering-design process, says Espiritu, who worked in aerospace engineering before teaching middle school science. “Engineers, they don’t get it right the first time,” she says.

The learning process is a cycle. With each iteration, the design improves, says Espiritu. “Students get frustrated because they want the answer right away. You need that frustration. That’s how you learn.”

It took Allen a while to grasp the necessity of letting her kids fail. You want students to feel good about the experience, she says, but it’s okay for them to feel the discomfort that comes when something is not working.

Students at Minnesota’s Cedar Park Elementary face their first design challenge in kindergarten by building a boat out of clay, says Foss, the engineering specialist. Introducing kids to the engineering process—having them start again and fix the mistakes—at that age is much easier because they haven’t yet developed a fear of failure.

“We definitely need more scientists and engineers,” says Foss, but more than that, “we need a population that understands science and the engineering process.”

“This Is What We Need to Do Today”

STEM is continuing to gain steam, but will it sustain momentum?

Ng has seen increasing demand for her organization’s elementary STEM teacher certification program, which is offered through St. Catherine University, but still, she says, “whether it’s here to stay is a really good question.”

As with any new approach, challenges remain.

Public education needs STEM to remain relevant, says Ford, of Hilburn Academy. And students immediately grasp that relevance. He recalls one second-grade teacher remarking that students used to come into class and ask, “What are we doing today?” Now they say, “This is what we need to do today.”

STEM Resources

Start with the basics. You don’t need a cartload of iPads to teach STEM. Begin by looking out your front door. Does your school have a courtyard? Start a garden. Try a “tech take-apart” lesson by disassembling old TVs or VCRs. Students can build bridges out of manila folders or boats out of clay (see above); they can incorporate the engineering-design process (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve) into a variety of art projects.

Reach out to local institutions. Whether there’s a nature center or a tech company next door to your school, your neighbors are the best folks to start with when you’re seeking resources for STEM initiatives. And be sure to cultivate partnerships with local businesses and colleges, too.

See what the state offers. Many state education departments have set up websites with STEM resources. Visit stemconnector.org and click on “State by State” to find links to organizations in your area. The site serves as a clearinghouse of resources offered by corporations, nonprofits, and professional organizations.

From the Math Magazine, Scholastic.