Piehl: The sweet STEM of success | SummitDaily.com

Piehl: The sweet STEM of success

In our still recovering economy, quality and innovative education is critical for our youth. The big question is how do we help our youth get an education that will help them be successful in a career and in life? One way is through the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. Some basic facts are helpful here. People working in STEM fields have an average salary of $77,880, compared with the U.S. average of $43,460. The top four STEM job categories pay an average salary of more than $100,000. Those categories include natural science manager, engineering manager, computer/information systems manager and petroleum engineer. STEM jobs also are easier to find. In Colorado, there are 1.49 STEM job openings for every unemployed person, compared with 0.34 job openings for every unemployed person for all occupations.

The Summit Education Foundation (SEF) is a local, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering innovation, creativity and STEM in the Summit School District. We are partnering with Colorado State University, 4-H and the Summit School District to bring the STEM program to Summit County, starting with after-school programs and moving into regular classrooms soon. SEF is less than three years old but has already provided more than $100,000 in funding for our core programs. Last fall we provided funding for targeted technology grants that provided new technology tools for classrooms at Summit High School, Summit Middle School and all elementary schools. We also provided competitive grants for innovative proposals from classroom teachers. We will be giving five graduating seniors iPads to take to college as part of our scholarship program.

We fund our programs through selected grants and local fundraising. The Big Buzz Off, our biggest fundraiser of the year, is coming up on Saturday, April 27. It is an adult spelling bee with a twist – you can cheat! It is a fun evening that brings together people in our community who have a passion for education. Tickets are only $15 and include dinner and a drink. We are looking for more teams and sponsors. Even if you can’t make that event you can support your favorite team with cheat money. All proceeds go to our technology grants, innovative teacher grants and STEM programs for the Summit School District. You can find out more at http://www.sefcolorado.org.

Brad Piehl is the chairman of the Summit Education Foundation. He lives in Breckenridge. SEF is also looking for new board members and volunteers to help with programs and fundraising. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Piehl at (970) 406-0085 or brad@sefcolorado.org.

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