It was STEM Day at the Capitol Tuesday and students from across the state gathered with lawmakers to display their scientific achievements.
STEM Day in the Capitol courtyard featured an array of scientific displays from five different schools in the state. Joan Mcgettigan, director of educational technology at North Broward Preparatory school explains the set up.
“You’ll see everything from 4th grade all the way through 12th grade. These big robots right here are part of the first robotics competition, that’s at the high school level. It’s almost like March Madness crossed with science and technology… it’s really great,” she said.
Mcgettigan says science, technology, engineering and math programs are helping to develop future industry leaders.
“This is our future workforce and so if we need creative problem solvers, there no better way than to get their hands dirty. As Paulo Blickstein says, you want to learn science… you have to make science. You don’t lecture for students to learn, you get them out there making and creating,” Mcgettigan said.
Despite Florida having one of the highest employment growth rates in the nation, statistics reveal that large numbers of jobs continue to go unfilled.
Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says if you look at the state’s top 20 in-demand jobs, half of them are in a STEM field.
“You’ll see registered nurses, but you’ll also see computer systems analysts, web developers and accountants for math. So we really see it across the fields and if you look at the growth in the state, we’ve had over 800,000 thousand private sector jobs added,” said Panuccio. “So these students who seem to be having so much fun out here today really have a range of options open to them especially and hopefully if they stay in the state of Florida,” he said.
At the start of this session, Governor Rick Scott proposed $30 million in his 2015-16 budget for a new workforce training initiative focused on STEM jobs. He says the goal of the proposed funding is to partner with high-tech companies in the state to create a paid summer residency program for science, technology, engineering and math instructors.