Idaho lawmakers, educators, and students gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to check out STEM tools and projects.
The Idaho STEM Action Center hosted the event, which featured more than 30 displays. Local organizations and students demonstrated how to code, explore virtual reality, design electronic circuits and work with robotics.
"I just want to inspire younger girls to get into STEM," Darcie Bushee, 15, said.
Bushee is a member of the all female FIRST Robotics team "The Chickadees".
"It is so important and there are so many job opportunities in Idaho for STEM," Bushee said. "Getting the next generation of STEM-loving females is extremely important.
Idaho's unfilled STEM jobs doubled in 2017 to nearly 7,000, which represents approximately $450 million in lost personal wages and $24 million in lost state tax receipts. The Idaho Dept. of Labor predicts as many as 36,000 STEM jobs could be unfilled by 2024 if the trend continues and would represent more than $120 million in lost state tax revenue annually.
The Idaho STEM Action Center was created in 2015 because Idaho citizens are not entering the STEM pipeline fast enough to meet current and future Idaho workforce needs. Its goals are to coordinate and facilitate implementation of STEM programs, align education and workforce needs, and increase awareness of STEM throughout Idaho.