To solve the world’s increasingly complex problems, we will need increasingly creative solutions. Because of this, it is imperative that parents and educators alike do everything they can to help develop the next generation of innovators.
One effective way to do this is to help students develop a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects by showing them how these fields are relevant outside the classroom.
National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees Radia Perlman (inventor of Robust Network Routing and Bridging) and Tom Leighton (founder of Akamai Technologies) agree, and both are advocates of early STEM education to help move the world forward.
Innovation Through STEM Education
In a recent article published by Akamai Technologies, Leighton writes about when he was in high school and had the privilege of attending a talk by NIHF Inductee Glenn Seaborg, a leading authority on nuclear energy and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. “He said that you never know what’s going to happen in your life, the many twists and turns it will take, and the challenges and opportunities you will encounter along the way,” Leighton recalls. “The key is to keep your eyes open, your ears open, and your brain turned on. If you do that you’ll be in a position to capitalize on the opportunities, and to solve the hardest challenges.”
Perlman shares Leighton’s passion for STEM education. Beyond having taught at the University of Washington, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she believes in the importance of helping students develop an interest in these subjects at an early age.
During a recent keynote address at STEM Learning Ecosystems’ “2020 Spring Community of Practice Convening” in San Antonio, Texas, she reiterated the importance of attracting many different types of people to STEM fields and explored how preconceived notions about these careers can deter people from pursuing them.
“They have this image of what an engineer is and they say, ‘well, that’s not me,’” Perlman said. She went on to encourage those in attendance to help students accept that the most innovative ideas often require different perspectives. “What we need in terms of diversity is not necessarily different body shapes and skin colors, but instead people who have different skills – people who can make things beautiful or simple.”
Like Perlman and Leighton, at NIHF we also believe in the importance of STEM education in inspiring the next generation of innovators. Directly influenced by stories and lessons from our world-changing Inductees, all our back-to-school solutions make STEM subjects both accessible and engaging for students, no matter how the school year takes shape.
To learn more about our Hall of Famers, and to stay up to date with the latest trends in STEM, we invite you to visit our blog.