Director’s Desk

May 16, 2016

Dear Tim,

Global Big Day = STEM, WHAT?
OK, stick with me, I am going to get to a point or you can jump ahead and read the punch line. Definitions: in the bird watching (birding) world a “Big ” is the total number of different species of birds you see in that period. For example, a Big Year is all the different birds you see in a year. See the movie. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – an educational movement to increase our student’s involvement and interest in these disciplines. Now here we go!

This past Saturday, May 14th was designated as the Global Big Day. Which you now understand to mean, that it is a single day where birders from around the globe (Global) record all the different birds they see. That’s a lot of binoculars. Results: 13,869 people turned in 36,945 check lists, identifying 5,826 different birds. And I helped. I checked out my backyard feeders, then joined a group at the St. Albans Town Forest and then drove around a bit. All told, I saw (or heard) 46 different birds, including a Yellow-rumped Warbler – while not necessarily rare, is certainly fun to say.

Two days earlier, I was able to attend the STEM Challenge Initiative Recognition Night. This is a gathering of students, teachers and local businesses who are expanding STEM awareness in our area. We saw creative, bright students celebrate their projects and accomplishments. We listened as energetic, enthusiastic educators shared their ideas for engaging more students in STEM. We applauded the business leaders for their contribution to this wonderful movement. And, we gave a standing ovation to Christine Depatie, from the Swanton Elementary School, as she was handed the Mary S. Babcock Award for Excellence in all things STEM. Dena St. Amour, Swanton principal, described Ms. Depatie as “a cross between Miss Frizzle and Bill Nye the Science Guy.” I was impressed that she is getting elementary students to turn off the lights. A BIG STEM Night.

Punch Line: The Connection
Tim Smith, Chair of the STEM Challenge Initiative, warned that next year the number of STEM challenge project entries would be greater and that the number of students participating would jump and that the number of educators would multiply. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yes, a GLOBAL STEM BIG DAY! Could you imagine a night where we celebrated 5,826 different STEM initiatives. Now we’re talking.

Did You Know?
In 2012, 7.4 million employees reported working in a STEM-related field. By 2018, we could be expected to see more than 8.6 million people pursuing careers in STEM, not counting those that are self-employed. Fun facts: Mechanical engineering is the #1 major chosen by students who want to pursue a career in STEM. American Indians have the highest interest compared to other minorities in STEM subjects and careers. Females who show an interest in STEM studies choose to focus more on science education.

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Dave Southwick
Executive Director

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