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To Create a Pipeline of STEM Workers in Virginia, Program Starts With Littlest Learners

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Jennie Dean Elementary School students experience the results of a science experiment.

A new program aims to get students in northern Virginia interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, in order to boost the potential of the region's future economy.

Credit: Jeffrey MacMillan

SySTEMic Solutions aims to get young northern Virginia students to become passionate about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and in doing so boost the region's future economy.

A 2013 Brookings Institution study found that 27.1 percent of jobs in the Washington, D.C., area require STEM knowledge, which means STEM jobs comprise a larger share of positions in the region than in every other metropolitan area in the United States except Silicon Valley. Moreover, the Washington area is poised to add 50,000 net new STEM jobs between 2013 and 2018, according to George Mason University's Stephen S. Fuller. These trends have motivated SySTEMic Solutions to create a pipeline of STEM workers for Virginia, starting with elementary school children and working to keep them consistently interested in the subject matter until they finish school and enter the workforce.

The program expects to have 40,000 students in the STEM pipeline by 2016. SySTEMic Solutions is a unified effort involving businesses, chambers of commerce, higher education, and K-12 schools, and its supporters say it can make a greater impact than a disparate group of well-intentioned but isolated programs. The curriculum is influenced by a task force of Northern Virginia Community College faculty, curriculum specialists from the school divisions, and volunteers from local companies.

From Capital Business
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