Pennsylvania STEM programs recognized at White House

Alyssa Pressler
  • Pennsylvania was recognized at the White House for its STEM programs.
  • It's estimated that 70 percent of future jobs will require a computer skill set.

Pennsylvania science, technology, engineering and math programs were recognized at the White House Symposium on State Implementation of Computer Science for All on Oct. 28 by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

Smith said at the event that the state has accelerated opportunities for students and families with its focus on STEM and computer science education. When Gov. Tom Wolf took office, he made it a goal to increase the number of students enrolled in STEM-specific majors in state universities by 10,000 in the next several years.

He also hosts the Governor's PA STEM Competition each year.

Local schools are taking his initiatives seriously. In September, Wolf visited the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) classes at York City's Ferguson K-8 school. Superintendent Eric Holmes said at the time the district hopes to expand the program into other schools in the district.

Gov. Wolf visits Ferguson K-8 STEAM classes

In August, York Country Day School opened its new STEAM center, a 44,000-square-foot addition that includes a center for the arts and a center for innovation. York County's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) team also had a blowout year in the world of robotics competitions during the previous school year and through the summer.

Full STEAM ahead at York Country Day School

“Pennsylvania is honored to receive recognition for its efforts to increase access to resources and education in the sciences for all students,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera in a news release on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. “Under the leadership of Gov. Wolf and the direction of the STEM experts we work with in the department, in schools and in the field, we are providing a unique opportunity to our students — the chance to leave the classroom prepared to enter a high-quality, high-value career.”

The White House Symposium of State Implementation of Computer Science for All facilitated discussion with the Obama administration, the National Science Foundation, schools and nonprofit organizers, according to the news release. Policies, access and models related to STEM and computer science were discussed at the event.

The release states that an estimated 70 percent of jobs in the future will require a computer science skill set.

“This is an exciting time for students and teachers, as Pennsylvania is on the cutting edge of ensuring all students regardless of ethnicity or ZIP code have access to learning experiences that will prepare them for the job opportunities of the 21st century," said Judd Pittman, special consultant to the secretary of education for STEM in the news release. "We are preparing students now for future success through authentic STEM learning experiences."