The STEM of our Problems: Pushing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education for Today’s Youth

Photo courtesy of Helix Magazine, Northwestern University

Photo courtesy of Helix Magazine, Northwestern University

STEM might be a term that may or may not have crossed your path recently- in the news, in everyday conversation, or in a Presidential speech that you caught the other day.  In fact, President Barack Obama has said, “… Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math.”  And that, my friends, is STEM- science, technology, engineering, and math.  I don’t think I’d be alone in saying these weren’t my favorite subjects in school, which is exactly why there are people, organizations, and initiatives making serious efforts to change that mindset for upcoming generations.  

In recent years, there has been a huge push for STEM education in schools.  Frances Eberle, Ph.D. of the International Society of Automation writes, “A successful STEM education provides students with science, math, and engineering/technology in sequences that build upon each other and can be used with real-world applications.”  According to the Department of Education’s website, “only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.”  It goes on to say that the US is behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science.  The Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) was formed for this very reason, and a key portion of its strategy is addressing groups that have “historically been underrepresented in STEM fields.”  President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget also has several areas that strive to improve STEM education for both students and teachers.

Female students are at the heart of those ‘underrepresented groups,’ and the national focus on STEM.  STEMconnector & My College Options tell us that “male students are over three times more likely to be interested in STEM majors and careers, compared to female students.”  In a 2010 report, the American Association of University Women found that “societal stereotypes can lower girls’ aspirations for science and engineering careers over time.”  In other words, if these subjects (and eventually careers) are not ‘cool,’ or considered acceptable for girls to take an interest in, then the cycle will continue.  

So the question is, what can we do about it?  We can make a change now by encouraging young people to not be ashamed or afraid of math and science, because those fields directly impact our everyday life and have brought us countless inventions and technology that we take for granted today.  There are tons of organizations who focus their time and energy on this effort- so don’t be afraid to get yourself and a student involved!  Community ONE supports the STEM initiative, and hopes to also play a role in encouraging students- boys and girls- to explore careers that are related to these vital subjects.  The sciences and technology are what keep our society evolving, after all.  It is our hope that through our programming we can inspire the next mathematician or marine biologist who makes a difference in how we live, work, and play.

Written by Courtney Battle

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Star of the Month: Daniel Shannon

Daniel Shannon Star of the Month. Community ONE

Daniel Shannon Star of the Month

“Make sure you apply performance to your potential and… vision to your future because vision speaks louder than words” – Daniel Shannon 

Daniel Shannon is a motivational speaker, a hope dealer, and most importantly a visionary. Daniel has faced and overcome many challenges in life but has always had a vision which has driven him to success. Daniel now uses his platform to inspire others to identify the vision in themselves, recognize their power over their own future, and encourage them to achieve greatness! Community ONE teaches children to reach for the stars and our star, Daniel Shannon, portrays a positive image and a great example of what children can hope to achieve.

We are honored to make Daniel Shannon our Star Of The Month!

Learn more about Daniel Shannon at DanielShannonSpeaks.com

 

iLoveCollege.org

Julian Gunder | iLoveCollege.org

Our Star of the month is Julian Gunder, founder of iLoveCollege.org. Through fashion + events, Julian encourages children to attend and graduate college. Julian has a great vision for his company and has reached a level success in which many children should aspire to achieve.

Thanks Julian for being our Star of the month!

What it Takes to do Political Advance: Community One Gives Students the Inside on a Possible Career Path

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Wednesday a group of Arlington, VA teens at the Buckingham Youth Brigade had the chance to hear from Community ONE Founder, Jason Wallace about his work as an Advance Site Lead for the White House and other officials.  Working in advance, he often travels ahead of, or with the President (and other officials) and handles all of the details prior to an event to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible.

The session started out with an ice-breaker activity, and then Wallace jumped right in to explaining his day-to-day duties, how he discovered his career, and even the challenges he had on the way.  From being homeless in the 8th grade to a successful career handling logistics for a Presidential Administration, Wallace conveyed that with hard work and determination, the students could make it happen for themselves too.

The night ended with a fun activity to give students a taste of what preparing for an actual Presidential event is like.  The group was divided into smaller sections that represented the Press Advance, Secret Service, and Staff Advance who had to negotiate with each other to address their specific concerns and still run a seamless event.  In the end, the students realized it wasn’t as easy as they may have thought, and learned about a possible career path in the future.  A win for them and for Community ONE!

 

Written by Courtney Battle

Research Demonstrates that Volunteering Leads to Better Health

volunteer-group

Excerpts taken from the Office of Research and Policy Development,
Corporation for National and Community Service. Find link to full material at http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf

Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy
Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Washington, DC 2007.

Introduction

Volunteering has long been a common ethic in the United States, with people each year giving their time without any expectation of compensation. While these volunteer activities may be performed with the core intention of helping others, there is also a common wisdom that those who give of themselves also receive. Researchers have attempted to measure the benefits that volunteers receive, including the positive feeling referred to as “helper’s high,” increased trust in others, and increased social and political participation. Over the past two decades we have seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing. Some of these findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.

Volunteering and Physical Well-being

It is the case that physical and mental health can be both a benefit of and a barrier to volunteering–that is, while volunteering may bring benefits to an individual’s well-being, poor health may limit an individual’s ability to engage in volunteer activities. A study of data from the Americans’ Changing Lives survey found that those who volunteered in 1986 reported higher levels of happiness, life-satisfaction, self-esteem, a sense of control over life, and physical health, as well as lower levels of depression, in 1989. Similarly, those
in 1986 who reported higher levels of happiness, life-satisfaction, self-esteem, a sense of control over life, and physical health, as well as lower levels of depression, were more likely to volunteer in 1989. (Thoits and Hewitt, 2001). Functional ability includes the ability to do the following without help: go out to a movie, attend church or a meeting, or visit friends; walk up and down stairs; walk half a mile; do heavy work around the house.
The study also found that membership in voluntary associations, as distinct from volunteer activities, had a significant positive effect on all three of the study’s health indicators (longevity/duration of good health, functional ability, and subjective health appraisal). However, membership and volunteering, while correlated, were not confounding factors.
Evidence indicates that those who volunteer at an earlier stage are less likely to suffer from ill health later in life, thereby offering up the possibility that the best way to prevent poor health in the future, which could be a barrier to volunteering, is to volunteer.