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Engaging America’s Youth in STEM through Hands-on Experiences in Labs and Communities Across America

Summary: 
The White House launches a National Week at the Labs and new STEM tracks for My Brother’s Keeper.

Wrap-up of National Week at the Labs

Last week, we launched the first-ever National Week at the Labs: More than fifty world-class federal labs in twenty cities opened their doors to neighborhood students, many of them in communities that have accepted the President's MBK Community Challenge. Students simulated particle collisions, chatted with astronauts and toured the Kennedy Space Center, operated robots, and got a close up look at rare equipment, like a U.S. Navy exoskeleton.

Mayors and community leaders in Boston, Orlando, Houston, Albuquerque and Atlanta, and everywhere in between, got in on the fun too and participated in events. Many of them have developed strategies to increase access to STEM training, higher education, and summer STEM jobs for area students.

Check out some highlights from the week:

 


The United States has more than a half-million job openings in information technology and many more requiring training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science. To ensure that all youth have access to these jobs and the jobs of the future, the Administration is working hard with communities across the country to provide opportunities in STEM and entrepreneurship.

One way to prepare all of America’s youth for these opportunities is to share some of the work we’re doing in our Nation’s Federal labs and help them meet some of our STEM leaders. This week, the White House will launch a National Week at the Labs in coordination with the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) and the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force to bring together scientists, engineers, and lab workers to inspire students as they spend the day performing experiments and participating in STEM mentoring sessions. 

National Week at the Labs

MBK Day at the Lab
Students participate in MBK Lab Day at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory inside the National Ignition Facility in June 2015.

We will kick off the National Week at the Labs with our own White House Day at the Lab on Monday, February 29, where students from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore will participate in hands-on activities with scientists and engineers to learn about careers in STEM. Throughout the week, more than 50 National Labs from across the Federal system in more than 20 states will open their facilities to thousands of youth from nearby neighborhoods, including the more than 200 communities that have accepted the MBK Community Challenge nationwide. Additionally, schools, libraries, and other community organizations are encouraged to organize their own Week at the Labs with hands-on STEM events to expand the opportunity for kids in their communities. 

MBK Day at the Lab
Students participate in MBK Day at the Lab at Lawrence Livermore National Labs in July 2015 in Livermore, CA. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.)

This work, which connects STEM, innovation, and business leaders with boys and girls and young men and young women from around the country, supports local organizations to carry out these initiatives, and enables young people to leverage opportunities and achieve success. 

STEM and Entrepreneurship work within CWG and MBK

To continue growing science and technology education and opportunities for young people in America, we are also excited to announce new MBK STEM and entrepreneurship tracks. The MBK Task Force is committing to creating and strengthening pathways to enable more young people, particularly those facing persistent opportunity gaps, to tap into the power of Federal and non-government STEM and entrepreneurship initiatives. This announcement also builds on the ongoing work of the Council on Women and Girls to ensure opportunities in STEM education throughout the workforce pipeline.

Some of this new and ongoing work focuses on: 

  1. Exposure. STEM-based activities to pique the interest of students and help develop the early sense of awe that will inspire them to pursue STEM education.  
  2. Training & Apprenticeship. There are multiple paths to opportunities in STEM fields. Developing pathways from university research centers is just as important as providing pathways from juvenile detention centers. Opportunities to engage directly in the work is most effective at yielding longer term-commitment and will enable young people to transition from the training environment to the labor market.
  3. Job Placement & Entrepreneurship. Acquiring skills is not enough; America’s youth need employment opportunities to make use of their STEM skills. 
  4. Advancement. Combating conscious and unconscious bias and institutional barriers that impact the ability for all young people to rise to leadership and advance professionally in all sectors. 

This builds on efforts throughout the Administration to increase student exposure to STEM and entrepreneurship, including bringing together hundreds of leaders from Federal agencies, local governments, academia, corporations, and national and community organizations. Community leaders in Boston, St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, and elsewhere across the country have worked hard to develop strategies to increase access to STEM training, higher education, and summer STEM jobs, and to mitigate bias in the STEM sector.  

Join us Monday to kick off the MBK/CWG National Week at the Labs:

Michael Smith is the Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative
Marvin Carr is a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer
Jordan Brooks is the Deputy Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls
Quincy Brown is a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation