Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: the foundation of successful careers for America’s youth. In a recent interview with EverFi‘s Vice chairman Gene Riechers he brings to light the issues regarding STEM’s involvement in K-12 schools nationwide. Riechers states that a key part of EverFi strategy is to collaborate with leading companies to work toward changing the U.S. education system.
After joining EverFi in early 2012 as Vice Chair, Riechers has been involved in the construction of high growth companies, formed by complementing EverFi’s leadership team in strategic issues, sales, capital formation and acquisitions and the development of innovative products. In the past Riechers found himself at a crossroads of computing technology and business, leading to a rewarding career as an executive and venture capital investor.
“I don’t have a STEM degree per se, but I’ve always had interests in math and computer science,” Riechers said.
Over the years Reichers was involved with Alexandria’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology providing aid in various forms.
“We all know what a remarkable school [T.J.] is,” said Riechers. “While our country needs more T.J.’s they’re not the full answer since they only touch a small portion of the population. To create the necessary change we need we must enable quality STEM education in all types of schools.”
EverFi’s focus on providing STEM-related courses has established the formation for the nationwide use of Ignition, a new-media learning platform focused on digital literacy and responsibility, designed to educate students sixth through eighth grade on the risks and rewards that technology can bring to fruition. Their newest STEM product Radius will launch later this year.
“[Radius] will combine the power of cutting-edge instructional design, rich media and simulations for the education and empowerment of teens to explore opportunities and careers in STEM. These engaging lessons focus on skill-building, showing the career possibilities that a STEM education can unlock.”
The eight-hour online curriculum will provide students grades 8-10 with 16 modules of STEM focused topics in a spread ranging from algebra’s real world application to a secret-agent themed course working with basic computer science. In alignment with both Math and English Common Core Standards, Radius is designed for math, science or technology course placement.
Riechers brings up the current misconceptions about STEM surround the dispelling of gender myths in STEM capability.
“Although progress has been made we still send signals that females are not as capable as males in STEM education in careers. Its ridiculous.”
Research established that the youth believe “girls aren’t as good at math compared to boys,” stating that “they’re too emotional.” Common belief is that STEM education is only important to those pursuing high-level STEM careers; math and computer science however has been proven to increase overall ability in in logic and decision-making albeit public opinion.
EverFi and Riechers’ inspiration stems (mind the pun) from Sally Ride, an accomplished STEM educator.
“What she accomplished professionally, through her focus on educating the youth,” said Reichers. “This is something that motivates us at EverFi.”
On the business-level involvement can provide the sponsorship and encouragement of STEM education. On the human scale any individual can volunteer at their local schools, whom seek any and all forms of help.
“We all need to push schools to recognize the importance of STEM for all students, not just those working toward engineering and science degrees at universities,” said Riechers. “STEM is the future. and as more and more jobs require this academic foundation we need to train our youth to be prepared for these requirements.”