Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are crucial to the workforce of the future. Fast-paced technical advancements are shaping our economy locally and globally. By 2020, for example, computer occupations alone are expected to increase by 20% while U.S. universities are statistically positioned to fill less than one-third of those 1.4 million positions with educated employees.
Lynchburg’s tech industry is growing and continues to produce new jobs each year. Our local tech businesses require a skilled workforce to compete. To help ensure that these highly-sought and highly skilled workers are available in the Hill City, the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority has collaborated on several local STEM professional development initiatives.
Here are three ways we support STEM programs:
1. HIPE Incentive
The Housing Incentive for Professional Educators (HIPE) initiative was designed to attract top math and science educators to the City of Lynchburg. To offset competitive wages that larger cities can offer teachers, the Lynchburg EDA developed a housing incentive in 2014 to assist Lynchburg City Schools. In order to ensure that the best and brightest teachers come to Lynchburg , the EDA offersup to $8,000 in a housing stipend for math and science teachers who commit to a three-year teaching agreement in Lynchburg City Schools.
2. TechKid’s Coding Camp
This past summer, Lynchburg hosted its first Tech Kids Coding Camp for middle school students who are interested in coding, robotics, web and technology. The camp, in partnership with the Future Focus Foundation, Holy Cross Regional Catholic School and Randolph College, was so popular that the camp organizers added a second week. Students between the 3rd and 6th grade were immersed for a week to learn useful hands-on and analytical skills to engage and encourage them to pursue STEM fields.
In 2013 and 2014, the EDA and the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation hosted NASA Education Services Project specialists in Lynchburg City Schools to teachlocal teachers how to integrate STEM activities into their classroom lessons. The program attracted more than 50 educators. Over the course of the two-day training, LCS teachers learned how to teach a wide range of interesting topics and fun educational activities, including:
- Exploring our solar system
- Gadgets, gizmos and contraptions: Building on the moon
- Solar system in your pocket
- How’s the weather
- Sunny sky line plots and African safari bar graphs using NASA data
- Rocket 2 racecars: Drag race to Mars
- Exploration Then and Now: NASA and Jamestown Education Model
- The Exploration Design Challenge
By encouraging youth to explore STEM material at an any age through fun, engaging and interactive activities, Lynchburg teachers are fostering future STEM workers.
Ninety per cent of jobs within the next decade will require some knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By educating our youth and offering them world-class hands-on technical experience from a young age, Lynchburg, VA is investing in its education system and growing a talented workforce to fuel the success of local businesses.