As the Herald went to press on Monday, the Center for Science Teaching and Learning held its first of several “visioning meetings” at the West Hempstead Public Library. The CSTL recently received $540,000 in state funds to create community centers around Long Island geared toward science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM. At Monday’s meeting, community members had the opportunity to contribute and provide their ideas and input relating to the design and programs that will be offered by its STEM center.
“We began to realize that we have a crisis in that the number of kids majoring in STEM is not increasing in the U.S. while seven out of 10 positions in the country are STEM-related,” said Dr. Ray Ann Havasy, director of CSTL. “There’s a disconnect. What really becomes obvious is that in most places of the world, STEM is a community-driven initiative so I would love to hear the types of things this community would want the STEM program
Programs in the U.S. have spent roughly $1 trillion dollars on STEM education, Havasy said, but it has not made an impact on students. “The reason for that is while STEM is really being talked about in the educational community,” she said, “it’s not being talked about in the communities themselves. The idea behind this was maybe if we make STEM more of a community activity — not just a school-based activity — then we can turn the tide on the number of kids that look at STEM as a career choice.”
Havasy added that STEM centers provide educational services for people of all ages, and that there are many STEM-related jobs available in Long Island.
“The more people who are trained in STEM-related careers and opportunities, the more it changes the dynamic of a community. I don’t want to give community members too many ideas because I want them to really give their feedback, and then, we can do some idea sharing.”
The construction process for CSTL’s STEM centers is set to take place this year, and is projected to be completed by 2019.