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Value of STEM

Oklahoma’s state leaders remain steadfast in their effort to close the skills gap in STEM education to secure a job-ready workforce.

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma STEM Summit

Gordon Cooper Technology Center


STEM Connector

Top Education Degrees

Show Details

Show 1650: Value of STEM
Air Date: December 11, 2016



Rob McClendon: Science scores among Oklahoma students have risen in the past decade thanks to a concerted effort to attract more students into the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Rob McClendon: When state leaders gathered for this year’s Governor’s STEM Summit, their goals had not changed.

Gov. Mary Fallin: To help close the skills gap.

Rob: By attracting more students into today’s growth industries of science, technology, engineering and math.

Fallin: We want to make sure that whatever certificate and degree a person gets, that it’s relevant.

Rob: And interesting – which takes us outside the summit doors to the students and their robots. These aren’t toys.

Alton Rayburn: We program it. We run it. We practice it. We check our codes. We have to keep a log of everything we do.

Rob: Alton Rayburn is part of Sprockets, Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s robotics team that we met earlier this year when they won the top award at the regionals for FIRST Robotics, a group of kids who have found success that goes well beyond science.

Josie Simmons: I came to Gordon Cooper, and I’ve totally come out of my shell. I used to be really shy, and I probably couldn’t even sit here and talk to you. But it just gave me a completely different outlet to life, and I’ve learned so much through Gordon Cooper, and it’s given me tons of experiences that I would have never been able to have before.

Rob: And she’s not alone. Every student we talked to had a similar story.

Rayburn: I’ve gotten a lot of experience publicly speaking; I used to be very worried about it. And being able to talk to strangers and meet them and interact with them has helped me a lot in that aspect.

Rob: So while the subjects may be science-based, the lessons learned are about so much more.

Matthew Smith: We do a lot more than just building robots, and I’ve learned how to work with a team and how -- and how important that is to any project.

Rob: Essentially building confidence by building robots.

Mackinzee Smith: I’m actually really interested in the medical field, which is a long road. So this has taught me commitment and drive to work towards a goal even if it’s hard, even if obstacles come in my way, to continue to work for that goal, to continue to strive for it even when things are difficult and when things don’t work like I think they should or like I want them to. So that’s something that’s really important that I’ll take with me.

Rob: Top students that may have first been attracted by the academics but are learning lessons in character.

Smith: School has always been something that I’ve been really good at, and so a lot of my classes haven’t been super challenging. But entering into robotics has really made me want to pursue courses and career paths that will challenge me, majors that will push me to be the best that I can be, to not just be comfortable in something that I’m good at, but instead to venture out and try something new that, that is hard, that is difficult and that makes me strive and work for something. And that’s something that I’ve really learned to value and enjoy.

Rob: And this is where the value added comes into education. While the students may first have been attracted to the science, what they’ve learned is so much more.

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