Outside educational programs are the future of bettering our students.

The YMCA of the Golden Crescent has set an example of helping students many others should follow.

The YMCA created a mobile classroom that focuses on science, health, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, and it is called the SHTEAM bus. It is vital to our children’s future that local businesses and community members buy into their education like the YMCA.

Research shows that young children’s minds are receptive to math and logic, and that early mathematics skills are the strongest predictor of future academic achievement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Developing STEM skills among our youngest learners is also an economic imperative in the U.S., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. STEM jobs are projected to be increasingly in demand. STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness and are more likely to earn higher wages than their non-STEM counterparts.

Our community will only benefit from STEM and similar after-school programs.

STEM programs come with a traditionally hefty price tag, but grants and other funding revenues are available. The YMCA received about $100,000 worth of grants to create a classroom on wheels. Local communities should look at those options. Education should not just be dependent on the classroom but extend well beyond those four walls.

The bus has been a year in the making. Now, it is being introduced to local educators to potentially incorporate the bus and its tools into their curriculum. The bus is outfitted with tools to teach each part of the SHTEAM acronym.

For science, students can look at a number of slides under a microscope. As for health, the bus is outfitted with a high tech Anatomage table where students can virtually explore the human body. A robotics station and 3D printers take up the back of the bus to teach kids technology. Students can use chromatography to learn aspects of art. For math, students learn equations through magic.

This is not the first time a business has contributed to educating the area’s children and it should not be the last.

Devon Energy worked with the Boys & Girls Club of DeWitt County to bring a STEM classroom to the students of Cuero. Programs like the STEM classroom and SHTEAM bus should be the beginning of the community helping to educate the children of the Crossroads.

Education programs better our children, which will only benefit our community. When our students are well educated they create a well educated workforce.

Public schools are limited with funding and programing, but businesses can bring an added level of education that will create a well rounded student.

It is time for more businesses and community members to rally behind our students and contribute to the betterment of our children through education.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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