At age 3, STEM Hub looks back to the future

LI Stem Hub at threeLong Island's state-sponsored STEM Hub is turning three. That's a lotta science, technology, engineering and math.

It’s been three years since the Empire State STEM Learning Network launched the Long Island STEM Hub, an amalgam of industry and academia on a mission to educate LI’s next-generation workforce.

To support the region’s economic growth and high-tech vitality, the STEM Hub (for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) provides a focal point for businesses, students, teachers, higher education and worker-retraining operations. A “Back to the Future”-themed celebration will mark the Hub’s third anniversary, scheduled for Thursday at Garden City’s Cradle of Aviation Museum – one of the Long Island STEM Hub’s lead organizations.

The STEM Hub, originally funded by a $320,000 federal grant, is led by employees from Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. Among other accomplishments over its first three years, the Hub – one of several hubs across nine states using federal funds to promote STEM education – has created science-related “career academies” in the Baldwin, East Islip, Massapequa, Plainview-Old Bethpage and South Huntington school districts, as well as the Richmond Hill School District in Queens.

Thursday’s event, highlighted by two student competitions, will honor and promote regional industry/academia collaborations and highlight numerous student achievements. It will also include the annual LI STEM Hub meeting, a general assembly for the hub’s business and academic partners.

Students from the middle school level to the university level will exhibit STEM projects, while Island business leaders and regional academicians will engage in separate panel discussions on future workforce needs.

The first student competition is the Water Quality Challenge, which asks student teams to propose ideas on how to improve local water quality. The second marks the finale of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s SPARK! Challenge, which late last year paired healthcare professionals with nearly 500 students from numerous Long Island high schools. Student teams produced videos recounting the “shadow days” they spent observing the professionals at work, and the top 10 videos will compete at Thursday’s STEM Hub event.

Ken White, manager of BNL’s Office of Educational Programs, said that the LI STEM Hub is making strides among “local businesses and academic partners interested in a well-prepared, technically competent workforce.”

“Collaborations emerging through the Long Island STEM Hub are clearly beginning to impact students on Long Island,” White noted.

Entry to Thursday’s event is free but registration is required. To register, visit www.listemhub.org/registration.