More than a dozen organizations and professionals provided interactive STEM experiences to Tampa Bay students
Tampa, FL April 2, 2019 – On Saturday, March 30, over 230 guests flooded Kforce corporate headquarters to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Kforce Kids’ STEM Fair. Activities led by 14 community partners taught kids in kindergarten through eighth grade about STEM through virtual reality headsets, LEGO mosaic models, coding games and applications and much more.
Kforce’s Kye Mitchell, Chief Operations Officer, and Denis Edwards, Chief Information Officer, hosted the firm’s first STEM fair to inspire the next generation of innovators, creators and experts.
“There are more STEM jobs out there than we have people for, so it’s a really great area for you to get interested in,” said Mitchell in her welcome to the students.
The STEM fair was open to families throughout the community with an emphasis on inviting children with organizations such as Hope Children’s Home, Jameis Winston’s Dream Forever Foundation, Metropolitan Ministries and Boys and Girls Club.
“The STEM fair is really all about educating kids on the opportunities for them to change the world,” said Andrew Thomas, Kforce Chief Marketing Officer. “There’s going to be quite a delta of expertise needed in STEM, and if we can do anything to help people get excited about these important topics we must do it.”
An estimated 65 percent of kids entering elementary school will end up working in jobs that don’t exist today and they will need a foundation in STEM education to succeed.
“There is a shortage of skill sets,” Edwards said. “We don’t have enough high school kids focused on STEM, and if you go a step below that we don’t have enough middle schoolers that are thinking about STEM. I’m so grateful our community partners share these ideals and joined us at the fair.”
The community partners, along with nine STEM-field professionals, joined Kforce to inspire kids to consider jobs in the STEM industry. This included professionals such as Thais Lage, Mechanical Operations Engineer on contract at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Dr. Faisel Syed, Medical Director at Dedicated Senior Medical Center.
“I’d like the children to know that anything is completely possible. Coming to this fair allowed them to meet different professionals who prove they can be anything they want to be when they grow up,” said Dr. Syed.
A major issue that’s been identified is a ‘belief gap’ in which young people hold inaccurate beliefs about what traits and aptitudes are required to thrive in STEM careers. Overcoming these barriers to fill the STEM talent gap will ultimately take a coordinated effort between schools, employers, communities and families to encourage and inspire the next generation.
One professional at the STEM fair, Kforce Infrastructure Developer Willie Murchison, wishes a similar event existed when he was young. “I started working with computers late in life and really didn’t think I had the aptitude to do it. Come to find out, I’m born to do it. So hopefully some kids today found something that they’re born to do,” said Murchison during the event.
Kforce would like to thank their community partners:
- Bricks 4 Kidz
- Florida Education Fund
- Girl Scouts of West Central Florida
- Great Explorations Children’s Museum
- Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay
- SIM Tampa Bay
- Tampa General Hospital
- University of South Florida
- University of Tampa
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