When the Soviet Union launched the first man-made earth satellite, Sputnik, into orbit on October 4, 1957, all the 184 pound, slightly larger than a basketball device ever did was beep (in A-flat) several times a minute. Really, that’s all it did! But those few beeps initiated an enormous upheaval throughout the world, and especially in the United States.
As Daniel J. Boorstin, a respected historian at the University of Chicago said about the launch of Sputnik, “Never before had so small and so harmless an object created such consternation.”
In a perfect example of unintended consequences, the Soviet Union’s success triggered an amazingly constructive revolution in American society. America’s reaction caused changes in our government, our economy, our military, and a huge revamping of our school system. One of the most important effects Sputnik had was on our nation’s youth, and the country’s attitude towards science, and science education in particular, especially the technical sciences. Those changes have provided spectacular benefits to us, and are still providing benefits to this very day.
Just a few of the numerous things we ‘owe’ to the jolt that Sputnik’s launch led to are the CAT scan, GPS, weather satellites, cell phone cameras, scratch resistant lenses, water filtration and purification, and countless other useful items.
(And that’s not even including Tang! The powdered orange flavored drink mix, which, through one of the 20th Century’s greatest pieces of public relations and salesmanship, went from a poorly selling, unpopular beverage to a bestselling breakfast drink for kids after some brilliant salesman, who obviously wouldn’t take no for an answer, managed to get it put on pioneering astronaut John Glenn’s first Mercury space flight menu.)
The CoreTech Foundation strongly believes that the next Sputnik-like catalyst that America’s education system and economy urgently needs is STEM – science, tech, engineering,
math. And just as the group that was most effected by Sputnik was America’s youth, the same holds true for STEM.
There are some who are already very aware of this. In the coming year, (2016) the American government has budgeted $3,000,000,000 towards STEM education. $3,000,000,000 maybe a great deal of money, but when one considers that an entirely new generation of scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians, plus an army of highly trained, well paid teachers will have to be educated in those academic fields, $3,000,000,000 just isn’t anywhere near enough.
It will take much more than just government largess to see STEM succeed. That’s why the CoreTech Foundation has established a social engagement and fundraising platform – Project Prime to help. Project Prime’s aims are pretty straightforward, to connect and inspire young people around STEM projects.
To quote directly from one of our projects, Project Prime’s goals are to: “align young people with common STEM interests, enable users to build creative and professional websites showcasing their work and progress in STEM-related competitions, drive creativity and innovation through brainstorming portals, (and to) foster communication among youth and mentors.”
That’s why today is the official start of The Year of the STEM Sell. (That’s not a spelling mistake. It is STEM Sell, not STEM Cell.) STEM has to be aggressively sold to the general public, to organizations, to businesses, both large and small, to foundations, and to philanthropic groups. It can be the hard sell or the soft sell, it doesn’t matter. The future reality is not very complicated, if STEM doesn’t succeed, then America doesn’t succeed. It’s as simple, and as vital as that!
Not only will the products and by-products of STEM benefit America and the world, but the many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new, well-paying jobs that are created will have huge benefits for American workers and the American economy as a whole.
So the future of America looks crystal clear, or as crystal clear as any future ever can look, and it’s either going to be STEM–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STUMP–Scarcity, Trauma, Unemployment, Misery, Poverty. (Granted, some of those words might be a slight stretch, and perhaps not the best choice, but acronyms are not the easiest things in the world to work with.)
Here’s hoping that along with the CoreTech Foundation, and all the other countless organizations and individuals of good-will who want only the best for our country and the world, that once again America will rise to the challenge, and the Year of the STEM Sell will be a huge success, and that for the second straight century in a row, the 21st Century will continue to be an American Century.