Perhaps nothing is more
popular in education right now than STEM and with good reason. It is estimated
that more than 100,000 STEM-related jobs will need to be filled in Missouri by
2018. But degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are lagging
and one major factor is the lack of awareness by both students and parents. The
Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America is working to change that
by offering scores of programs in STEM such as its recent STEM University. Nearly
1,000 area Scouts participated in STEM University held at the University of
Missouri-St. Louis on Dec. 28 and Southeast Missouri State University on Jan.4.
STEM University, now in its
second year, is a full day of classes and activities involving subjects of
science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Scouts sit in on sessions
about energy, astronomy, medicine, architecture, electronics, oceanography, weather, and more. The
day serves as a great way to expose youth to new
opportunities and help them develop the STEM skills critical for the
competitive world marketplace.
For Katie, an assistant den leader with Pack 760 in
Boone Trails, the program was a big hit with her son, Daniel.
“We just had a great day the
whole time,” said Katie. “I had no idea what to expect. Each session was really
interesting; they were all very different. I know from talking to the boys that
the really popular part was the session with the aerospace engineer. He talked
about unmanned space crafts and drones. They did a demonstration with a quad
copter and they flew that around. After that, I think all of the boys wanted
their very own quad copter.”
Katie and Daniel brought
four other boys from Pack 760 to attend STEM University at UMSL.
“It was an opportunity for not
just my son, but all of the boys to see the different areas and the different
options you can do with a STEM background,” Katie said. “There was an aerospace
engineer, a speaker from AT&T, and a detective from the bomb squad. It’s
really why I sought this out. I do think it’s important to get the boys
energetic and engaged in these types of activities now because it is fun for
them and they can grow and learn with it as they get older and hopefully they
do choose to pursue a stem-related career. It is important in our household and
I think it’s important for a lot of people too.”
The pack traveled together
to five different sessions throughout the day until the belt loop class where boys
could choose between computers or music. Daniel chose music.
“We did music because my son
is in choir and I thought it would be an interesting topic to talk about,” said
Katie. “Something we probably wouldn’t cover in the dens. The volunteer leader
that taught the class did a really great job. The boys learned how to conduct music.
They conducted it to Star Wars. I think that’s exciting for any boy. It was a
Despite being just
eight-years-old, Daniel already has an interest in science-related activities,
but for Katie, finding programs in the areas of science and technology and the
like is difficult.
“My son is very interested in
science so I’m always looking for extra-curricular science activities for him
to do,” Katie said. “There is the Science Center and some other places but we
have been there and have done all of that. A lot of things cost quite a bit of
money too. That is what was nice about STEM U. It was a full day of educational
learning for really a minimal cost. I thought the price to attend was really
The STEM program at the Greater St. Louis Area Council has also caught
the attention and support of many business and community leaders in the region.
Dr. Thomas George, chancellor at UMSL, and John Sondag, president of
Missouri AT&T and the council’s STEM chairman, both spoke during the
opening ceremonies at the UMSL STEM U. Dr. Ken Dobbins, chancellor at SEMO, led
opening ceremonies at SEMO.
Get more information about STEM in the Greater St. Louis Area Council by visiting our STEM page