By Kayla Lucas, Global NetGeneration of Youth Cyberjournalist, The Academy of Health Sciences at Prince Georges Community College
On Tuesday, April 12, I attended the STEM on the Hill exhibit at the Rayburn House Office Building. There, people from many different spectrums from STEM fields convened to inform the onlookers on the importance of STEM careers and present the George E. Brown Award. Hosts and participants ranged from students to doctors to physicists.
The different tables exemplified just how diverse branches of STEM actually are. The Union of Concerned Scientists, an assembly of scientists that raises awareness about environmental issues and brings them to the attention of political figures and institutions, discussed the importance of informing people of the Earth’s predicaments. The Optical Society, or OSA, had a interactive displays exhibiting how light can be used in an extensive amount of ways that can be as simple as neon lights to something as complex as optical lithography. There were also many tables about different forms of renewable energy. One that peaked my interest was geothermal energy because you don’t hear much about many forms of renewable energy other than solar and wind. Geothermal energy uses the heat from deep within the Earth to produce energy, which might be the way of the future. It’s still in progress so until then we’ve coined it as “the hipster of energy conservation”. Those are just to mention a few. The tables were immensely informative while still being entertaining. Every person I interacted with was extremely friendly and passionate about what they do.
The highlight of the evening for me was when Representative G.K. Butterfield received the George E. Brown Science Award for his contributions to STEM programs and careers. He told his story of his rise to becoming a congressman, how he started out as a lawyer, but realized that his education could make him have a larger impact on the country. So he later became a judge, and now is a congressman. His enthusiasm for STEM comes from his father who was a dentist, and as he grew, he understood the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical careers. He stated, “Over the last ten years the technology and innovations that has emerged in this country, and around the world, is just staggering. Experts say that we need 1.4 million new STEM workers over the next five years and at the rate people are graduating with STEM degrees, we won’t be able to get there.” He goes on to say how careers in STEM need to be encouraged from a young age and that’s why programs in middle schools are so important. Representative Butterfield stated that his passion for STEM developed as he saw the potential in the field and in the youth. He also added that it is indisputable that STEM careers have the best job opportunities.
My experience at STEM on the Hill was a very informative and eventful one. I networked with people who specialized in my interests. I met some very intriguing people, and learned about fields and careers I didn’t even know existed. STEM isn’t just about cells and DNA (though it can be), it is its own world full of endless possibilities forever evolving along with mankind. STEM can be what you make of it, so make it your own.