Published March 10, 2015
This month, from March 14-20, UB is partnering with local SUNY institutions, the City of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Public Schools to celebrate the second annual Science Week, aimed at introducing our region’s young people to the vast array of educational and career opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Science Week, designed for students from kindergarten through high school, is about connecting our students to these opportunities by letting them tap directly into our region’s resources. This includes, for example, work being done on our Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where new discoveries are made every day that will transform our future—from advancements in genomics and advanced manufacturing to new medical technologies.
Participating students have unique, hands-on opportunities to engage directly with these cutting-edge resources and technologies—from extracting DNA to learn more about how genetic make-up impacts personal health decisions, to receiving a cryogenics demonstration directly from one of Praxair’s leading inventors, to learning the science behind what makes their favorite hockey player shine on the ice.
The students participating in Science Week are coming of age at an incredibly exciting time of discovery and innovation across the STEM fields. And this coincides with a time of great promise for our region as we transition into a thriving innovation-based economy.
All of this is creating unprecedented opportunities in our region and beyond—not only new jobs in the booming life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors, but also all the opportunities that come with the greater social vitality and vibrant cultural scene that are flourishing as our city becomes increasingly well known as an innovation hub.
And our surest way of sustaining this momentum into the future is positioning our young people to take full advantage of all these opportunities have to offer.
Preparing today’s students—from pre-schoolers to graduate students—to be the next generation of leaders in their fields is a key priority at every level. The past decade has seen an especially great emphasis on the vital role of STEM education in enhancing our global competitiveness in today’s innovation-based economy, and programs like Science Week resonate with similar efforts at the state and national level to address this priority.
The growing attention to improving STEM education and preparing our young people for success in these vital fields shines a light on a vital issue—the critical need to strengthen the educational pipeline, so that we all work together to prepare the next generation to succeed and lead in the 21st century.
This is not only a challenge for the STEM fields. It impacts every field. To ensure that our society continues to thrive, prosper, compete, and contribute in today’s global world, we need to prepare our students to be innovators, explorers, and intellectual pioneers, so that they are prepared to break new ground and blaze new trails in whatever field they enter.
To be successful, we need a comprehensive and collaborative approach to improving education—a broad-based partnership of government, educational and research institutions, business and industry, and the not-for-profit sector.
Nationally, statewide, and locally, our nation’s higher education institutions play an especially important role in partnering with primary and secondary schools to better prepare students to succeed and thrive in a globally competitive marketplace. As a major public research university, part of our mission at UB is to help build and support a thriving knowledge economy—regionally, nationally, and globally. One critical way universities do this is by preparing and educating the students who will be tomorrow’s leaders: in our classrooms on campus, and within the primary and secondary schools in the communities we serve.
As one example of this collaborative approach to enhancing educational opportunity, Science Week gives young students a valuable opportunity to explore how research and discovery can be applied to challenges in today’s society. And it encourages them to explore the potential careers open to them in science, technology, and mathematics—fields of vital importance in the 21st century global innovation economy.
But innovation is not just the province of science and technology—it is the foundation of all discovery, original thought, and creative expression in every field, from the fine arts, philosophy, and architecture to the study of language and culture and the practice of law. That is why a strong foundation in STEM education provides essential building blocks that will serve students well in any walk of life, whether their chosen field is poetry, history, business, or social work.
These opportunities will be life-changing: for them and for all the communities they will go on to enrich as educated citizens. That’s why it is so critically important for all of us that we work in partnership to strengthen the higher education pipeline—so that the next generation can begin seizing these opportunities right now.