Spring is definitely in the air. Here in California the beautiful poppies are going off after the historic rains we have been experiencing this year. I would say it is a bit too much rain, but the recent drought cycle is still burned in our memories. People are getting their gardens planted now so that they can reap the harvest throughout the summer and into the fall season. There is something satisfying about putting a seed in the ground and watching it spring forth from beneath the dirt and grow right before your very eyes.
Educating today’s youth and creating the next generation of innovators and explorers is just like planting the Spring garden. If you fail to plant the seed now, then you cannot complain when July rolls around and you do not have any home-grown heirloom tomatoes. Similarly, students need to prepare now for the challenges of their future if they are to flourish in a future even more technological that we know today. Our country generally lags behind most of the leading industrialized countries in the world when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) proficiency for our students.
As a kid I grew up amazed and obsessed about all things having to do with space. This led me to pay more attention to STEM-related subjects and eventually to a career in telecommunications. This evolved into an opportunity 20 years ago to start X2nSat along with a great cast of other people who share my passion for these subjects.
Related: The Last Frontier: Space
A number of years ago I got involved in the North Bay Science Challenge through my membership in the Petaluma Sunrise Rotary Foundation. Myself and my fellow Rotarians have a strong belief in the ability of local leaders and involved citizens to make a significant difference in most of the challenges we face in our community. Educating our kids is no exception.
The 2017 edition of the North Bay Science Challenge was held on March 11th at St. Vincent de Paul High School and saw the participation of 222 kids from 18 different schools. This was a 42% increase from the 156 participants last year! The entire event is setup to make learning and using STEM skills fun. Each school had teams of 12-17 kids that rotated through 13 different experiments and hands-on activities.
Many of these kids and teams have been participating for a number of years now and take the challenge seriously. Some began researching, experimenting and practicing for this event back in December. The kids are led by teachers, parents and other volunteers who understand what an important and impactful investment it is spending their time this way. The teachers involved do all of this for no extra pay outside of their regular teaching duties and obligations.
Related: Women in Space
This event has been organized, nurtured and grown by Mike Roa. His passion for the kids and teaching STEM has been a driving force of this program. He has rallied dozens of companies and scores of volunteers to join him in this important passion project. This year there were 32 different companies, agencies, service clubs and individuals that donated to make it happen again in 2017. It truly is a grassroots, community-driven effort.
I am proud of where we live in here in Sonoma county and that there are so many individuals and organizations contributing money and time, as well as genuine care and concern, to help their neighbor in need or make sure our kids live in a safe community and get a solid education to help secure their future. It is very satisfying to see the growth that is the result of the seeds that have been planted that we continue to nurture and grow.
Have you got your crop in the ground? I encourage all of you to look for an opportunity in your local community to plant, water or nurture the seeds of our future. The time is now.
Contact Mike Roa at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to find out how to get involved and help out with the North Bay Science Challenge.