A new report by the Brookings Institution found that STEM is, well, everywhere. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
Some key findings:
- Workers in STEM fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. And it’s not just jobs in the innovation economy. As of 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. The “hidden” STEM economy represents 20 percent of all jobs.
- Half of all STEM jobs are available to workers without a four-year college degree, and these jobs pay $53,000 on average.
- Half of all STEM jobs are in manufacturing, health care, or construction industries.
- Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations constitute 12 percent of all STEM jobs, one of the largest occupational categories. Other blue-collar or technical jobs in fields such as construction and production also frequently demand STEM knowledge.
Read more: The Hidden STEM Economy
Last weekend was the National Day of Civic Hacking, a two-day event that brought together technologists and subject matter experts “to create tools that make our city better.” I participated in the hackathon organized by TechnicallyPhilly.com and the City of Philadelphia at Drexel’s ExCITe Center.
I worked on a Code for Philly project with Chris Alfano and Jim Connor. We addressed the problem of the lack of a central source for information about after school and summer programs. There are a number of databases that compile information about out-of-school-time (OST) programs, but the information is not current. The demand for such programs will increase in the wake of the “doomsday” school budget recently approved by the School Reform Commission.
There’s no money and in nearly half of Philly households, no Internet access. So many parents and students will try to find out what’s going on at the library or Keyspot public computer center. While Internet access is free, users are not free to sit there as long as it takes to find a suitable program.
So we built a mobile web app that empowers parents and students to quickly access current information about after school and summer programs.
Users are able to search for programs by grade level, season (summer or year-round) and subject. What’s Going On is at the intersection of technology, education and civic engagement. The public is invited to submit a program. We will verify the information before adding the program to our community wiki, Wikidelphia.
An asset map of OST programs in Philadelphia, What’s Going On won first place. The project can serve as a national model for how developers, advocates, parents and community members can collaborate to expand access to programs that promote year-round learning and engagement.
The Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner famously observed: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” At this weekend’s music hackathon, my team, All That Philly Jazz, will bring Philadelphia’s jazz legacy to the present.
The Philly Jazz App will map historic places and markers, murals and legendary jazz clubs.
Looking beyond the hackathon, we will go back to the future and augment reality along South Street, Ridge Avenue and 52nd Street. Back in the day, those corridors were jumping with jazz clubs where legends like John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King hung out. I’m already fantasizing about the Fantasy Lounge, which was located across the street from the studios of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records.
All That Philly Jazz is at the intersection of technology and art. The project can serve as a model for how art can be used to motivate underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). While jazz appeals to an older demographic, a project on, say, Philly’s or Brooklyn’s hip-hop legacy would resonate with young people who are disconnected from the innovation economy.
For more information, follow us on Twitter: @PhillyJazzApp.
Friday was proclaimed “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Day” by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. All citizens were urged to support the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education (FATE).
FATE is changing the fate of underrepresented minorities by connecting the best STEM ideas to schools and students. And their ideas work. One of FATE’s students, Zora Ball, is the youngest computer programmer in the country.
At the First Anniversary FATE Bootstrap Expo, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor & Managing Director Richard Negrin gave keynote remarks.
Negrin said technology is key:
I love technology. I love innovation. But it’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s empowering. It changes lives.
Negrin noted that 54 percent of Philly households do not have broadband Internet access at home. They live in “digital deserts” disconnected from the innovation economy and trapped in poverty:
Technology can break the cycle of poverty. Technology can empower all our children. It catapults their learning and thinking. That’s how we get out of this crisis in the education system.
Negrin observed that it is important to connect the dots on how STEM matters in students’ day-to-day lives. But we can’t show them what’s possible because no one knows what the future holds. Instead, we must show students the way, teach them the skills, and free their minds.