It was exciting to see an all-female NASA crew recently do their first spacewalk together, inspiring girls the world over. While long overdue, milestones like these are critically important steps forward for women, people of color, first-generation students, low-income individuals, English language learners and people with disabilities who remain underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries. This lack of representation is both an issue of equity and of need: 2.4 million STEM jobs are projected to go unfilled this year.

Last week was Massachusetts STEM Week, a statewide effort to boost the interest, awareness and ability for all learners to envision themselves in STEM education and guide pathways to college, careers and lifelong STEM learning. Organized by the Executive Office of Education and the STEM Advisory Council in partnership with the state’s 9 Regional STEM Networks, the week’s theme was "See Yourself in STEM." I am proud that public media is doing its part, not just this week, but throughout the year, to support this impetus for increasing diverse representation in STEM.

Inspiring more young people to see themselves in STEM careers is one of the reasons WGBH recently piloted Escape Lab, an interactive STEM experience on Twitch, a live video platform reaching millions of viewers aged 13 and older. I spoke with Tory Starr, WGBH’s Director of Social Media who leads our Emerging Platforms Initiative, about how we are reaching these young audiences with public media content that encourages interest in science puzzles, engineering quizzes and interactive problem-solving.

More than 9 million kids start their STEM-learning trajectory by watching Curious George on PBS Kids, which reaches more than 7 million underserved children in low-income households.

Throughout their K-12 educational career, young people also engage with PBS LearningMedia, the free online hub where the over 1.9 million registered educators nationwide can access thousands of classroom-ready, standards-aligned digital resources in STEM and other subject areas. Our award-winning science series NOVA, the most popular primetime science series on American television and one of the primary contributors of STEM content to PBS LearningMedia, demystifies scientific and technological concepts that shape and define our lives, our planet and our universe.

Through our Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project with NASA, our Education group is researching and creating supports for English Language Learners and developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework for science education.

WGBH Education also recently launched Design Squad Global Latinx, a three-year initiative funded by the National Science Foundation, that furthers our successful Design Squad Global model of global science clubs, taking a strengths-based approach to engineering education with Latinx youth, educators and thought leaders.

We’re helping kids get excited about STEM with a long-term goal of building a pipeline of diverse skilled workers ready to join the ranks and contribute to the promise of continued economic prosperity and growth across the Commonwealth. Join us!

What else can we do to encourage lifelong STEM learning?