PERU, IL – Illinois STEM expert, Anila Gill, says America’s education system needs to teach children how to solve real world problems. “This is a big problem,” according to Gill. “We have a STEM world economy and if America is to remain competitive with a good quality of life, then our kids must get the best STEM educations possible,” Gill said.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Experts say these skills are key to the future of the USA economy and good jobs. In 2018 the US government created a 5-year strategic plan to strengthen STEM literacy. STEM encourages formal and informal learning. Science camps provide informal learning and play a key role in STEM education.
Gill has dedicated much of her career to promoting STEM skills. She is the STEM Coordinator and chemistry honors teacher at St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois. Gill knows firsthand the importance of a good education. She grew up in Pakistan and came to America to study chemistry at Georgia State University. “When you grow up in another country you are more aware of the blessings, freedom and resources America has been given. A solid STEM education exposes our kids to bigger ideas to appreciate our water, food, power and other things that give us a great quality of life.”
STEM skills help kids connect to the real world by improving both their hard and soft skills. “Most education today focuses primarily on hard skills such as engineering, coding, accounting, etc.,” Gill said. “But a good STEM education focuses on both hard and soft skills. Soft skills are things like communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving capabilities,” she adds. Gill thinks the most valuable STEM skill for kids is perseverance. “COVID provided American kids with a lesson in persevering through tough times. A STEM education definitely teaches adapting skills and overcoming problems,” Gill said.
Gill’s passion for STEM skills is also why she is a huge fan of informal education opportunities for kids like the local Summer Science Camp. She works with Summer Science Camp Director, Dan Fitzpatrick, who is a fellow science teacher at St. Bede. “Dan is a wonderful teacher because of the excitement he brings to the camp and classroom. He is always doing hands-on activities and experiments that bring science alive to the kids,” Gill said. The July 26 – 30 camp is sponsored by Carus LLC to promote STEM skills for area sixth graders.
“There is a lot of research on the benefits of science camps and the informal education setting,” said Gill. “Formal classrooms tend to be larger with less one-on-one time with teachers. A camp gives kids a short, but rigorous exposure to science that they don’t experience in the regular classroom. At camp they get to touch things, do things, and get more one-on-one time with camp teachers,” Gill adds. She also thinks it helps introverted students have more opportunities to explore and ask questions. Last, but not least, Gill says summer camp is a great way for parents to discern if their child could have a real interest in science that should be nurtured.
MEDIA COVERAGE OPPORTUNITIES: Contact [email protected] to schedule a media interview with Illinois STEM expert, Anila Gill. Also, let us know if you would like to schedule time to cover this event July 26 – 30 at St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois.
(Image Caption: Anila Gill is the STEM Coordinator and Science Educator at St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois. She says this week’s Summer Science Camp is a great way for local students to advance their STEM educations.)