LA Programs Building STEM Interest For Children This Summer

The LA STEM collective is fostering an interest for the growing field in young schoolchildren with the help of over 40 organizations.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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LA STEM collective

In a growing fashion, more educators are finding innovative ways to interest young students in the fields of STEM. STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math has become so important, as it serves some of the fastest-growing job industries globally. In Los Angeles, school districts are working alongside community programs to foster interest in the STEM fields, through a new LA STEM collective that is gathering steam. 

EdSource reports on this endeavor, which started as a way to keep children engaged during the pandemic, when museums, libraries, and other public places closed their doors. The LA STEM collective brings together various museums, aquariums, and other STEM organizations from across the county in collaboration with LA Unified School district (LAUSD) summer programs for elementary and middle schoolers. Even after COVID restrictions have been lifted, and public buildings have reopened, the organizers see the vast benefits of this program, and plan to keep it running for as long as they can. 

STEM learning is important for many reasons. For one thing, nearly all (78%) of high school graduates fail to meet benchmarks for at least one college course requirement in math, science, reading, or English. Likewise, STEM-related jobs have already grown at extreme rates over the last two decades. As the demand for them continues to grow, many important jobs remain unfilled.

When the initiative first began in 2020, there were just 12 local organizations involved. Today, that number has grown to more than 40, and the joint group now calls itself the LA STEM collective. This year, the group will host a mixture of virtual and in-person activities all based on STEM learning. 

For virtual field trips, students have traveled to the port of Los Angeles, San Diego, and other local islands like Catalina. With science and aquatic instruction, representatives from the LA STEM collective say that shark week is always a big hit with the kids. AtlaSea created plenty of virtual footage for the students involved in the program. 

Tinker the Robot is another popular organization working with students through the LA Stem collective. With robot building kits, children learn about science and engineering. All of these groups are just the start of what the collaborative offers. 

LA STEM collective

Hosted by the Wildwoods Foundation, the LA STEM collective is currently funded to run through the summer of 2023. Much of the funding for this program is made possible by Great Public Schools now, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Adams Legacy Foundation, and the National League of Cities. Given that California just increased public school funding by a record amount, the group will likely look for public funds to support the endeavor. 

The future is STEM, especially as the globe continues to grow into a technologically run world. STEM careers encompass a wide array of important jobs. Experts feel that it is crucial to attracting young children into these fields, as the economy perpetually relies so heavily on these types of careers. The LA STEM collective is just one of many efforts to peak interest.