MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dot Harris is the director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity for the Obama administration.

She’s in Minneapolis to speak on behalf of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics eduation – and she’s trying to get students to think about entering the field of science.

What Harris really wants is to let children from the inner city know that if they concentrate their academics on the STEM curriculum, life can change – like it did for her.

“We need our kids to be able to take on those careers that really, you know, STEM careers actually pay 33-percent more than non-STEM careers,” Harris said.

Assisting her endeavor is the athletic director for Minneapolis Public Schools, former NBA player Trent Tucker. He’s an ambassador to STEM after he got a call from the White House.

“[The White House] asked me if I was interested in becoming an ambassador for the STEM program,” Tucker said. “I said, ‘For sure.'”

For instance, they want kids first to participate in dance, then figure out how to work on a dance program.

“If you love dance, you know, a lot of the routines that are choreographed for dancing is done by some type of scientific or engineering-based technology,” Harris said.

A well-rounded student athlete holds the key to this world.

“You should have options. So you should take the chemistry, the physics, the algebra. Take all the courses, challenge yourself,” she said. “It’s cool to take the difficult courses in school.”

It’s about bringing together students and athletes to offer realistic hope about their futures.

“Any athlete today is looking for a post-secondary education, because academics have to be in place, and there’s no better place than to start right now,” Tucker said. “Making sure our kids are on track academically so that they can do the things they want to do tomorrow athletically. That’s what STEM’s all about.”

Harris’ goal is to make talking about STEM as attractive and as glamorous as it is to be an athlete.

“Every day they see what entertainers do. Well, we need to start putting on your shows, for example, bring some engineers or scientists on TV,” Harris said. “Make it sexy and exciting.”


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