NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and founder of FIRST Dean Kamen discussed the importance of implementing STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math education in America)to redirect kids’ passions from competing with basketballs to competing with robots.
According to Kamen and Bolden, STEM is a national priority to have a growing and successful workforce in the future. Kamen said, “This country’s biggest strength is the passion that freedom gives kids. The problem is that their passion is being misdirected to things that will not give them careers.”
Kamen blames this problem on the culture of America, which celebrates the world of sports and the world of entertainment. “The NBA only offers a few dozen careers each year, but STEM offers a million jobs,” said Kamen. He argues that STEM helps young people develop skills that the workforce highly demands unlike the skills that most 21rst century children hope to have.
Rather than aspiring to be the next NBA star, Karmen wants kids to aspire to be the next “LeBron James” of science. For this reason, he created the “super bowl of smarts,” a competition of young people that work together with mentors to design and create robots. Karmen is confident that this “ultimate sport” will create the next generation of innovators and engineers.
“The only difference from this sport and all the others,” says Kamen,” is that every kid on our teams can go pro. There is a job out there for all of these kids.”
Kids often turn away from studying science or math because they have a hard time seeing its values. To solve this problem, Bolden suggests that schools should bring the relevance of learning math and science so that kids can see its purpose. “Kids would be less likely to bounce a ball around every day if the NBA did not exist,” says Bolden. This same concept applies to math and science; kids need to know that these skills are useful in their everyday lives.
Bolden and Kamen both agree that the implementation of STEM will affect the future of America’s progress. If states do not focus their attention on STEM, Kamen warns that America will “deserve what it gets.”
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