It takes a village to get more students interested in science, technology

Falling behind in education jeopardizes the future competitiveness of the region and country, especially in STEM fields where the U.S. already lags some other nations.

SHARE It takes a village to get more students interested in science, technology
Parents and students arrive at George Armstrong Elementary School in Rogers Park, for the first day of school in August 2021 after a year of remote learning.

Parents and students arrive at George Armstrong Elementary School in Rogers Park for the first day of school in August 2021 after a year of remote learning.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

In Illinois, only 25.8% of students in grades 3-8 met or exceeded state standards in math, down 6.2% from 2019, according to the 2022 Illinois Assessment of Readiness.

Falling behind in education jeopardizes the future competitiveness of the region and country, especially in STEM fields where the U.S. already lags some other nations.

It’s critical for the community to come together to address this issue and expose children to learning opportunities and diverse role models. This is especially true for underserved students and girls, who entered the pandemic behind their peers in STEM participation.

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The challenges — and opportunities — cannot be understated. If we invest in education today, Illinois, and the U.S., will be positioned to fill the pipeline of future jobs, prevent ongoing labor shortages and continue to lead the world in technology.

Developing our youth can unearth and ignite academic passions, altering the trajectory of students’ lives and elevating their socio-economic status.

One example comes from the Illinois Biotech Innovation Organization (iBIO), the life sciences trade association that’s committed to growing the Illinois economy and fostering the next generation of life science professionals.

In response to the pandemic, iBIO teamed up with Lake County-based Abbott Laboratories to launch the iBIO STEM Kit program for high-need low-income students. Since January 2021, iBIO has delivered nearly 12,000 kits to these students, filled with everything needed for STEM learning activities such as experimenting with plant growth and using biometrics to digitally identify a person. The kits also include information about career opportunities, with spotlights on local STEM heroes that highlighting women and people of color.

The results of that program are encouraging. More than half of participating students reported being “a lot” more interested in STEM careers; 78% enjoyed learning about local STEM heroes; and 82% of responding parents said the STEM kits positively impacted their child’s view of STEM careers.

Thanks to initial sponsor Abbott, educators and parents, this positive response hints at a glimmer of hope and demonstrates how communities can come together to make a difference. But the fight is not over. iBIO welcomes the support of corporate sponsors throughout Illinois to help continue delivering kits, shaping lives and cultivating tomorrow’s leaders.

Ann Vogel, senior vice president of charitable programs, Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO)

City’s snow ban ‘over the top’

I am not affected by the city’s winter towing ban, but the reality is that Dec. 1 sneaks up on just about everyone. Some kind of warning ticket system needs to be put in place. After a day or two, then proceed with issuing tickets.

Towing is over the top and just another money grab. Unless a snow storm is on our doorstep, stop the towing for a longer, defined time period.

John Petersen, Belmont Heights

Ye is delusional, or a moron

So Ye claims that Hitler did not kill 6 million Jews. He’s not alone. There are people in elected government positions that feel the same way. I find this appalling. Not only did Hitler kill Jews, others were also executed. Almost 2 million more!

One of them was my great-uncle, who was Polish. He was dragged out of his house and shot in front of his family. My beloved grandmother would never forget it. Serb civilians were also murdered and Black children were sterilized. The suffering of generations to follow is a result of this atrocity, to this day.

Anyone who doesn’t think this happened is completely delusional or a complete moron. But then, all we have to do is look at the people denying this. That explains it all.

Thomas Bajorek, Burbank

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