Students in Buffalo Public Schools will have an opportunity to get hands-on play while learning more about science, technology, engineering and math - or STEM - through a partnership involving the school district, a local children's museum and a telecommunications giant.
As an estimated 300 children played late Tuesday morning inside the Explore & More Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum in downtown Buffalo, museum chief executive officer Michelle Urbanczyk was announcing a new partnership that will give hundreds more Buffalo Public School students the chance to play and learn inside the facility.
"Our AT&T STEM program is made possible to bring 1,500 Buffalo schoolchildren to the museum," she said. "This means there's not a cost. There's no bus cost, there's no cost to come into the museum. And the kids have a passport program where they go around the museum and learn different skills as it relates to STEM."
The examples include STEM's relationship with building and construction, farming and food production, and medicine.
Kevin Hanna, AT&T's director of external affairs, said educators keep stressing the need to provide STEM education to young children. He suggests millions of STEM-related jobs are unfilled nationwide. His own company is among those that will depend on future skilled candidates to emerge and fill those positions, even years from now.
"It's vital for us to have the best and brightest talent to really manage AT&T's future and our future initiatives, both men and women from diverse backgrounds," he said. "Students like those here today are not only critical to AT&T's future success but are also vital to our region, and to the City of Buffalo. They are the future. They are the technology leaders of the future that will keep this region thriving."
The program also involves the selection of high school students who will be trained to utilize Explore & More as STEM mentors to younger pupils. Those who complete this will receive scholarship awards.
"They can learn it, can teach it and maybe become those future educators we desperately need," Urbanczyk said. "What we also need is we need educators who understand the importance of play and informal learning to make that formal learning much more enriched."