Learning advanced STEM skills is critical to students’ success both now and in the future. Try to remember a day at school or at work where you didn’t use a smartphone or tablet to help keep you organized and connected and accomplish your tasks. While it’s tough to remember, these vital tools have been in our pockets and briefcases fewer than 10 years!
Can you imagine a world where scientists can make building materials resistant to termite damages by engineering trees that termites cannot digest?
All of these life-changing tools and resources are possible because people in STEM-related career fields not only had the knowledge and skills, but also possessed the creativity and motivation to make our world a better place to live.
The future leaders and innovators of our state are sitting in our classrooms today. As educators, it is our job to ensure that students have the access to STEM education so that students have the ability to fill jobs – and create new jobs – in the workforce of tomorrow.
But there are many jobs today that did not exist five or 10 years ago, and the workplace will continue changing rapidly in the near future. That’s why we also have to help Florida students prepare for college and career through strong academic standards that develop critical-thinking, problem solving and communications skills.
The Department of Education has made it a priority to ensure students have access to high-quality STEM education opportunities. In the past five years, we have increased enrollment in accelerated STEM courses by 46 percent, allowing more students to discover the possibilities of careers in STEM-related fields.
Governor Rick Scott has been a strong leader for STEM education in Florida.
His “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget proposal includes:
• $20 million to create a Rapid Response Start-up Grant program for technical centers;
• $5 million to incentivize $10,000 STEM degrees at Florida Colleges; and
• $1 million to facilitate partnerships with high-tech Florida companies.
These investments are important to help students be prepared for success now and in the future.
Today, I had the pleasure of joining Florida students in the Capitol Courtyard for STEM Day at the Capitol. Students showcased their talents through the demonstration of robots and solar vehicles they created. I enjoyed spending time with these incredible students. I’m also grateful to the teachers who take the extra time – inside and outside of the classroom – to provide these students with the skills and support they need to get a quality education and learn important STEM skills in the process.