Tomorrow is Pi Day! We make this a fun day in our household, where we celebrate the mathematical constant of π—or 3.1415—on March 14. To celebrate, we will make (and eat!) pie and see who can recite the most digits of pi. This year math fanatics are thrilled because it falls on 3/14/15, which aligns to the first five digits of pi. This has created even greater interest in what already is a global phenomenon.
Beyond pie eating and making YouTube videos, Pi Day provides the perfect opportunity to talk about our need for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The gaps we have in highly trained and skilled workers for the next wave of the Internet—or the Internet of Everything—are real. According to research, by 2018 the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers.
We must get children engaged in STEM earlier and cultivate that interest throughout their entire educational journey. The National Center for STEM Elementary Education notes that a third of students lose interest in science by the fourth grade, and by eighth grade, almost 50 percent have lost interest. By the time students reach high school, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.
To ensure we are ready for the new digital era, Cisco is participating in a number of programs to engage and educate students in STEM areas. One program, US2020, is dedicated to igniting movement of STEM mentorship across the United States. Cisco has pledged that by 2020, 20 percent of our workforce will volunteer in STEM mentoring. We also provide funding for innovative programs like the MIND Research Institute, which is fundamentally changing how math is being taught in underserved communities from coast to coast.
And just last week, we hosted 30 fifth grade girls at Cisco’s San Jose campus as part of a celebration for National Engineering Week. Next month we will celebrate International Girls in ICT Day. Throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Cisco will host events for girls age 13 to 18 that will foster their interest in technology.
We aren’t the only ones focused on the workforce of the digital era. On March 23rd , President Barack Obama will host the 2015 White House Science Fair, which is a key commitment in the his Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire more girls and boys to excel in STEM subjects. We can all raise awareness and foster interest in STEM with our young people, whether it’s a visit to a tech lab, an opportunity to learn from a mentor, or even eating a piece of pie. What will you do to celebrate Pi Day? If you need some ideas – check this out! http://www.piday.org/all-things-pi/