“At the conference, we’ll be introducing a parent’s guide to STEM,â€ Kelly says. The 100-page, glossy booklet will offer step by step guidance to parents so they will know how to help their kids. “It’s easy to follow without being simplistic, and it offers a lot of resources.â€ It will also be published on the U.S. News website.
Panel discussions make up a key part of the STEM Solutions Conference. The opening keynote panel, Making STEM Diversity a National Priority, will feature Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF; and Leland Melvin, NASA astronaut and host, Lifetime’s Child Genius, among others. Kelly will speak one-on-one with the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez. He hopes to press the secretary on what more the federal government can do in support of STEM training. “The president has been pretty articulate from a policy standpoint about what needs to be done, but there hasn’t been much that they’ve been able to do about creating new programs and initiatives. In particular the Labor Department does have a lot of funds that relate to technical training and career education. And that’s an area that sometimes gets ignored as it relates to STEM, but things like basic computer coding training and developing skills to go into advanced manufacturing at the community college level–that’s where Labor has the ability to put some more resources, so I want to understand more about what they think they can do, and why they are having trouble getting some of these things moved along.â€
Kelly says that one thing that makes the conference a success is having people and organizations make connections across regions, when, for example, someone from Kentucky talks to someone from Washington state and brings a successful program to their own region.
“We think it’s important to celebrate programs that are successful. We put them on stage. We let them talk about what they do. In many cases they get funding for it. Some of the programs we’ve talked about over the years have begun to grow and I think it’s important that there are more programs dealing with these issues on a national level.â€
Kelly cited Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Girl Scouts, Project Lead the Way, National Math and Science Initiative–just a few of the programs that are working to help solve the STEM crisis. This year’s theme, diversity in STEM, is an important issue in communities of color, which are typically economically and academically underserved; the theme also addresses the issue of women in STEM.
To register or to get more information about the STEM Solutions Conference, go to http://usnewsstemsolutions.com/.