Note: This is second in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions.
As a person with a life-long interest in science and graduate training as a neuroscientist, I am committed to helping our educators at all levels to excite students about the value of scientific inquiry. Understanding the world around us is becoming more important than ever. The dangers to the planet of population growth, air and water pollution and global warming have been understood by scientists for quite some time, but are still controversial among the chattering classes and the general population. Technological advances in manufacturing, information management, and various service industries demand constantly increasing levels of technical expertise from employees at all levels. And yet, student achievement in STEM fields in the United States is slipping relative to other countries. If the US and the world are to continue to enjoy prosperity and a high quality of life, we need to educate the next generation to think in scientific and mathematical ways, to think critically about public policy issues, and to make decisions based on scientific reasoning rather than political rhetoric. For the special group of students with a high aptitude for science and math, we need to help them overcome any economic and social barriers to their success. They will be the innovators and problem solvers of the future.
Jonathan Franz is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Board of Champions.