Time & Attendance
By James Tehrani
Nov. 22, 2015
Companies talk about preparing for the future all the time, but Imajine That did something about it.
The Boston-area children’s museum, which serves children from chronically at-risk families, partnered with local public television station WGBH-TV to create a program called Ready to Learn. The initiative was designed to help adults learn how to use technology and media that, in turn, would help them teach children skills in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
Partnering with WGBH allowed the museum’s staff of “imajinators” to be trained and be able to pick the brains of the WGBH employees who came to train them on the technology. As staff members became more proficient with the technology, they were able to pass those skills and knowledge on to parents, teachers and students in the community. It was a win for the employees — and the next-generation workers.
To boost the focus on STEM knowledge, the museum even created a new position, known as “Jake the Science Guy” — not as catchy as Bill Nye, the Science Guy, but we presume he’d approve — to help pique students’ interest in science and math. And kids’ STEM interest is of great interest to the U.S. workforce in general. According to research firm Burning Glass Technologies, there are 2.5 entry-level STEM job postings for each four-year STEM graduate compared with 1.1 postings for students in non-STEM fields. Translation: There are a lot of tech jobs out there.
To accomplish its goals of training kids, Imajine That had to get creative. In its Optimas application, Imajine That explained, “Most at-risk families feel intimidated to take courses and training in a formal environment due to their English as a second language reality.” Ready to Learn consisted of events and experiences that took a fun and playful approach to help kids learn STEM skills.
Over a two-year period, more than 40 teachers and staff were trained as part of the program, and the museum was able to acquire new technology under the partnership, such as tablets, computers and software. The initiative seems to be working, too. Some families, the museum reports, have even requested STEM-related birthday parties. If that isn’t the icing on the cake of how deserving Imajine That is for this award, we don’t what is.
For its initiative to join forces with WGBH to create a training initiative for its staff and the community, Imajine That is the gold 2015 Optimas Award winner for Partnership.
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