Why You Should Consider Supporting STEM Education This Holiday Season

Dec 19, 2017 By Mark Giordono, Vice President of Development, FIRST




STEM Holiday Season blog header - Girls working on project

It’s an incredible time to be a curious child.

We don’t just mean the holiday season, although we do love that extra dose of wonder that seems to creep in this time of year. We mean that it’s an incredible moment in time for innovative young people.Infographic quote - Amazing opportunities

Teachers and administrators today are working even harder to encourage students in science and math—integrating coding and engineering into the classroom when possible and supporting afterschool programs in STEM if it isn’t. Job opportunities in STEM fields are expected to grow to more than 2.7 million by 2020. Amazon’s top holiday toys list for 2017 actually includes a future coding skills kit for four year olds.

It really is an amazing time. But that doesn’t mean we’re done. All kids need equitable access to STEM opportunities, relevant mentorship, and engagement to build a foundation for a bright future.

This month we’re holding our year-end fundraising drive, and we’d like to ask you to consider donating or volunteering to support FIRST—or another STEM education organization you believe in—this holiday season. Because we’ve got more work to do, and we can’t do it without you.

To Encourage Failing Well and Trying Again

STEM is about more than just technical facts, computers, and equations. It’s about critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. When you support STEM education, you’re not just supporting math classes. You’re supporting a different way of seeing the world.

Infographic Stat - 87% plan to take a more challenging courseFIRST alum Peyton Fitzgerald says FIRST “not only taught me about engineering; it taught me how to learn. Right off the bat, I discovered the benefits of failing early and failing well.”

FIRST founder Dean Kamen says that throughout life, people find all kinds of ways not to fail.

“…the unintended consequence of redefining success as lack of failure is that we quickly become so risk-averse and everything we do in life is only marginally better than what we did yesterday,” Kamen said. “Life is so short. We shouldn’t waste any of it trying to do anything marginal.”

STEM education is about encouraging students to find creative solutions to problems—even if the first solution is the wrong one. It’s about preparing kids for a world in which, sometimes, we fail, so that they’re ready to pick themselves back up and try again.

To Expand STEM Education Opportunities

For all our progress in STEM education, the gaps in access for low-income and minority students remain.

From computer science to physics to statistics and calculus, students at low-income schools simply don’t have the same opportunities as students at higher income schools. While 61% of eighth-grade students have science teachers who say they have all or most of the resources they need, that percentage drops to 51% for black eighth graders.

It’s important that while we recognize the advances in the world of STEM education, we remember that not everyone is experiencing them. We must do everything we can to foster inclusion and opportunity for everyone.

After all, to build a uniquely diverse and innovative workforce – one that can truly address the challenges of today and tomorrow – we need people of all backgrounds and capabilities in the professional pipeline.

To Help Kids Reach Their Goals

STEM engagement programs like FIRST help kids find their passion and discover opportunities they never considered before.

Eighty-seven percent of FIRST participants plan to take a more challenging math or science course. Over 75% of FIRST Alumni are studying or working in a STEM-related field. Schools with FIRST teams have been able to boost graduation and college enrollment rates. FIRST Alumni work with NASA, SpaceX, AmeriCorps, and more.

These kids are going to change the world.

So before you close the book on 2017, consider donating or volunteering to support STEM education. Together, we can build a better 2018, and an even more incredible future.


If you have an inspiring story or piece of wisdom that you’ve picked up through your experiences in the FIRST community, please reach out to us at and inquire about becoming a guest contributor for Inspire.

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