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Why science centers matter

Why is Science Central important to the Fort Wayne community? Sure, it’s a fun place to bring the kids when the weather is rotten. But at its core, Science Central is much, much more than just a place to play. Science Central is a catalyst for learning, and it’s a catalyst for learning the most important subjects that employers will need our kids to know to perform work in the future – science, technology, engineering and math, or as they are commonly called, STEM. Careers in STEM are among the fastest growing fields in the nation. However, the United States is trailing behind the rest of the world when it comes to preparing students for success in these fields.


Child watching iguana.Perhaps a presidential report says it best…The 2010 Report to the President, Prepare and Inspire: K -12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for America’s Future, stated that the United States now lags behind the rest of the world in elementary and secondary STEM education. Despite this alarming statistic, Indiana is doing better than average in STEM education when compared to the rest of the nation.

 
In a study done by the National Assessment for Educational Progress in 2011, 32% of Indiana eighth-grade students scored proficient in science education, compared with the national average of 29%. While our Indiana students are performing slightly better than the national average in science, 32% is still a significantly low percentage.  In this circumstance, better than average is still not good enough to meet the future employment needs of our country.


Through outreaches to schools, educator workshops, distance learning, family visits to the center and community events, Science Central strives to generate interest and confidence in science at an early age. By piquing an interest in these subjects, children are eager to learn more. This can lead to future success in these subjects at school. With our programming, we are preparing the next generation of students to be scientifically literate so they will pursue science at the college level. 

The education provided by Science Central is not just a nicety; it is a necessity for the STEM education of our community. Science Central has a responsibility to inspire students to take additional science classes, to consider STEM-related careers, and to educate adults on the connections science makes to everyday living. Science Central provides our community with the tools, resources, and programs needed for school readiness, and for future educational and career success in STEM fields.
Parents should consider that ongoing exposure to STEM topics through visits to Science Central, attendance at Science Central camps, and participation in special events at Science Central will serve as a catalyst to keep their child interested and involved in STEM learning.


So the next time the weather turns rotten, don’t  think of a trip to Science Central as just a way to keep the kids occupied. Instead, think of how you are providing your kids with an excellent learning experience that could help with their future career success!

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This video on the importance of science centers was created
by the Association of Science & Technology Centers (ASTC).