For as long as she can remember, 14-year-old Gladys Holm has had a love of science, fostered by her dad, who encouraged her every whim from astronomy to chemistry.
Today she is focused on a career as a biochemist, hoping one day to work on drugs to treat cancer or diabetes.
“I love science, I always have and I’m excited that other kids will have this chance to explore the way I’ve been able to,” said Holm.
In an economy increasingly focused on science and technology, minds like Holm will continue to be in high demand.
In the next 15 years, Lockheed Martin alone will need to hire more than 100,000 engineers.
To help meet the nation’s demand for future engineers and to stimulate an early curiosity for the sciences, Lockheed Martin announced today, Feb. 5, its partnership with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) in Central Florida to bring STEM education to all Orange County students.
“As we think about the future – science, technology, engineering and mathematics are just so critical to the future of our nation quite frankly. It’s just so important that we double down and invest in our youth and to put in place the programs they need,” said Dale Bennett, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training.
Through a three-year, $2 million grant from Lockheed, OCPS will be able to expand its existing STEM curriculum offered through Project Lead The Way (PLTW).
Over the course of the grant, all students from grades K-12 will have the opportunity to participate in the PLTW program.
Project Lead The Way programs are already in place in more than 6,500 schools in all 50 states. The programs incorporate a project-based approach, enabling students to work together to build critical thinking skills.
The grant money will enable OCPS to train teachers to implement the programs, to purchase necessary equipment, such as iPads or computer upgrades and covers all curriculum expenses for the three years.
Engineers from Lockheed Martin will be volunteering their time to assist the teachers in developing and implementing PLTW curriculums.
“This investment will put our STEM education on steroids. I don’t have any other way to get across to you how huge this investment is for kindergarten through 12th grades, in 184 schools, touching 192,000 students,” said Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins.
OCPS is the 10th largest school district in the nation and the fourth largest in Florida.
Lockheed Martin has had a presence in Central Florida since 1956, with a long legacy of community involvement and support.
“The partnership between Lockheed Martin and Orange County Public Schools, utilizing PLTW’s programs, is a model for how public and private partnerships can solve education and workforce development challenges facing our nation,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, president and CEO at PTLW.