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Connecting kids in Columbia with science

Developing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-educated workforce is a national priority, according to the United States Government. What does that mean for kids in Columbia?

Currently, there are not enough US students graduating with the degrees and skills in this area to meet the demands of the 21st century job market. While many STEM programs target high school and college students, the path toward a STEM career often begins with a love of science nurtured at a young age – which is exactly what’s happening in Columbia, thanks to GSK.

This summer, GSK offered the GSK Science in the SummerTM program to elementary school students throughout the Columbia area. This special program was created in 1986 by GSK scientist, Dr. Virginia Cunningham, who found herself among only a handful of female scientists in her field. It was her vision to create a fun, free, hands-on experience for children in the community. Cunningham's concept, with a special focus on engaging girls and minorities in experiment-based exploration, became Science in the Summer.

Now in its 31st year of operation, Science in the Summer helps more than 25,000 children across the country “grow into science” per year, and has nearly 200,000 alumni to date. The program continues to inspire a love of science in children at a very crucial age, and enables communities to invest in their futures by empowering their children – regardless of their economic status or background – to succeed in an increasingly STEM-based job market. The program is free and is available to children in second through sixth grades.

The Science in the Summer curriculum is developed by a team of GSK educators lead by a Ph.D, along with the education leads from the University of North Carolina Moorhead Planetarium, the Franklin Institute, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The curriculum aligns with Next Generation Science Standards. The 2017 program focused on the Science of Sports – allowing kids to explore how their favorite sporting activities link to STEM. In 2018, the program will focus on the Science of Space and, if the stars align, more kids will discover a lifetime love of science.

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