Our program featured Souderton Rotarian Al Engel who introduced us to the District 7430 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Youth Explorer Academy project. Statistics indicate the United States is falling behind in terms of STEM-based graduates. Large gaps exist between the pipeline of degrees in STEM versus the need. The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a shortfall of 54,000 – 139,000 physicians by 2033. 2 million STEM jobs are expected to be unfilled due to a lack of highly skilled candidates by 2025.
The answer is to find a way to get young people interested in these areas of study. The idea is to establish an annual 3-day educational experience for 7th grade students. Our District is partnering with the SETI Institute whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the Universe. The Science Camp will be held at Albright College in Reading and will be scheduled for July. District Rotarians are working with SETI to establish the curriculum. The space- centered theme will incorporate aspects of chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, geology, climate science, and planetary science. The students will be housed in the Albright residence halls and the classes will use the College labs. The 2022 pilot program will have room for 100 students but there is plenty of room for the program to expand. This is an exciting new venture for Rotary to continue to provide service to youth.