Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been awarded a $1 million grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to provide science engagement, outreach and communication training for students, staff and faculty at community colleges across the state. The historical institution’s North Carolina Science Festival staff will lead the new statewide program.
Through Featuring Underrepresented Talent in Urban and Rural Engagement with Science, community college students, staff and faculty in STEM will be trained in effective public communication and science outreach practices.
The program is designed to connect more communities to their local community colleges, and encourage North Carolinians — especially young people — to explore STEM as a viable sector to study and work in.
“North Carolina has a wide range of STEM career options,” said Crystal Harden, director of programs and inclusion initiatives at Morehead. “We’re excited that this program will both celebrate those career paths and connect communities through meaningful public engagement opportunities.”
This comes as the country is expected to see STEM-related jobs grow 50% faster than non-STEM jobs over the next decade, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The vast majority of these positions (92%) — like pharmacy technology, electrical systems, radiography and dental hygiene — will require post-secondary education, but not necessarily a traditional four-year degree.
“We hope that people see that we have a strong community college system and a wide range of resources to support our economy in North Carolina,” said Harden.
Partner community colleges will tap into the vast NCSciFest network — which includes hundreds of K-12 schools and community organizations across the state — to share the stories of their profession and describe their journeys to get to where they are now.
The program is in recruitment phase and currently accepting applicants online at ncscifest.org/futures.