All it takes is one: one principal to see the long-term impact of STEM enrichment, one teacher to advocate for experiential opportunities for their students, one parent or guardian to extend learning beyond the classroom and into their home, or one inspiring individual who sees the value of STEM in everyday life and the role it plays in our future.
Over the past 30 years through our work at Scientists in School, I’ve met countless individuals across Ontario and Alberta who were that one special person to ignite curiosity in a child. When I became a Scientists in School workshop presenter in 1993, and later Executive Director in 1999, I hoped that this once-grassroots organization would grow into something bigger, with a broader reach beyond our initial service area of Ajax-Pickering. I’m proud to share that as of today, 36% of Ontario students in 296 communities across Southern Ontario, and 7% of Alberta students in 37 communities around Lethbridge and Calgary, participate in our hands-on STEM workshops. To date, we’ve reached over 9 million young scientists across Ontario and Alberta and have an annual reach of over 700,000 children and youth. But much more significant than numbers is impact. Our research provides evidence that we make both short and long-term impact in heightening interest, confidence and perception of STEM relevance.
This wouldn’t have been possible without all of the hard-working teachers and educators, parents, donors and community partners we’ve been privileged to collaborate with over the last 30 years.
What’s next for Scientists in School
While we’re extremely grateful to have both sustained and continuously evolved as a charity long enough to mark our 30th anniversary, great challenges lie ahead – and we’re working diligently to tackle them. With the upcoming release of our new five-year strategic plan, we’re putting an imperative focus on equity in STEM education. When Scientists in School launched, although there was a gap between affluent and non-affluent communities, it didn’t affect participation in our program like it does today. Our workshop fees were lower and school budgets were higher. With soaring requests from schools to book our workshops, our growth in funding for subsidies hasn’t kept pace.
In response to growing poverty levels affecting many of our service areas, we created our Adopt-a-School program in 2015 to reach more students in underserved schools and communities. Our Adopt-a-School donors ensure that every classroom in a school receives at least one free Scientists in School workshop in a school year. With the support of our generous donors, we have adopted 80 elementary schools – reaching 43,300 students this year who otherwise would not have had a Scientists in School experience. Now, we’re ramping up our efforts to close the gap in participation between schools serving lower and higher-income communities completely by 2024.
We’re calling on you – the one who will answer the urgent call to get today’s young minds excited about STEM. The one who recognizes the dire need to create more accessible pipelines to STEM careers. The one who wants to make a difference today for a better world tomorrow.
Will you be the one?
There are many ways to take action. If you want to join Scientists in School in getting the next generation excited about STEM and in addressing equity barriers we’ve identified, here’s how you can help:
- Become an individual donor to our charity
- Join our team as a dynamic workshop presenter
- Become a corporate or community partner and help inspire 703,000 youth each year
Thank you for 30 wonderful, dynamic, and life-shaping years with us. Here’s to the next 30, as we work together to build a better future.
Executive Director, Scientists in School
For more information on Adopt-a-School, contact Amy Schindler, Director of Fund Development and Communications, at 905-837-9626, ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org