Op-Ed

STEM at the root of children’s growth in Miami Gardens

I was appointed to the city of Miami Gardens’ City Council in March 2011 and was subsequently elected councilman on January 2012. Since my appointment, I have been uniquely focused on improving the standard of education for the city’s youth and empowering their parents.

This focus has led to the creation of countless programs and events geared toward expanding the knowledge and prospects of the children of Miami Gardens. I am especially proud of is the city’s Elementary Science and Engineering Fair.

Each year, the fair invites students attending elementary schools in Miami Gardens to create and submit a science project and match scientific wits with their counterparts. Project winners receive monetary awards, and schools with the highest number of participants receive special recognition, as well. The fair also increases local students’ familiarity with the fields of science, technology, engineering and math while acquainting them with the idea that science can be fun.

Hosting this event brings a newfound appreciation for the students’ unbridled potential. It also highlights the importance of cultivating that potential at an early age. I have seen far too many children filled with the same potential fall into the chasm of underachievement and underperformance because of a lack of instruction or encouragement.

It should be no secret that engaging children in positive endeavors that challenge their minds is the best, and easiest, way to continue to prevent crime, foster economic development and attain long-term improvement in the quality of life of our residents.

Though the benefits of these types of programs and activities are obvious, there is a palpable non-presence of events and programs that engage our children in the exploration of scientific fields in Miami Gardens. This is why the city, through the newly approved general-obligation bond, is focusing on expanding the science, technology, engineering and math offerings — STEM — available to our youth. The city is poised to rapidly improve the availability of science-focused activities.

This focus on the sciences will not only quench the natural scientific curiosity of all children and engage youth in worthwhile tasks, but it will also provide our children with highly marketable skills that have become so valuable in the job market. Engineers, programmers, scientists, marine biologists and other STEM fields are in high demand in today’s job market. Therefore, equipping our children with the tools to pursue those careers is the first step to ensuring that they are able to secure gainful employment and lead productive lives.

Though I, my colleagues on the City Council and the city’s administration are pursuing science-focused goals, we cannot do it alone. I implore parents to encourage their child’s curiosity about the way the world works, to take their child to a science museum and to encourage their child’s interests in the sciences even if they do not understand them.

I implore every science teacher in Miami Gardens to stay encouraged, stay encouraging and reach out to me to explore new ways that the city can help in their efforts to spread the wonders of science. I implore our businesses to invest in the future of the children of Miami Gardens, to sponsor scientific competitions in our community, to actively engage in our schools and with our students. I implore our students to understand that they have the power and knowledge to figure out the world’s biggest mysteries and that they have an entire city that believes in them. I implore our more than 110,000 residents to understand that we are working hard, every day, to create a better city of Miami Gardens for us all, and especially for our most valuable resource — our children.

Working together, we can create a city that’s more prosperous and vibrant than ever imagined.

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