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Former NASA Astronaut Bernard Harris Joins NJIT Forum on Post-COVID STEM Learning

On Oct. 8, NJIT welcomed former NASA astronaut and noted STEM education leader Bernard Harris at its annual STEM School Leadership Forum, sponsored by NJIT's Center for Pre-College Programs (CPCP) — an event that attracted scores of educators virtually for a discussion on what the future of post-COVID STEM learning should look like. 

NJIT’s past STEM School Leadership Forums have brought together K-12 leaders from across New Jersey to professionally network and learn the latest in STEM curricula and programming. However, given the extraordinary challenges posed to educators and students since the widespread shift to remote learning last March, it was no surprise that this year's event honed in on key issues of the times — from addressing digital divides in many rural and urban areas to reimagining how school days are configured post-2020. 

At the event, NJIT President Joel S. Bloom led the way with introductory remarks that reflected the focus of this year's forum theme, "Reimagining 21st Century STEM Education: Beyond the ‘New Normal’ to What STEM Education Can and Should Be." 

“NJIT has played an important role in launching underrepresented minorities and women in STEM professions, but we must redouble our efforts. Look at the data … How can a country driven by technology only have 13% of the engineering profession represented by women today?” said Bloom. “We also know the people who were hurt the most in this pandemic are low-income families, and yet those are the future students for our universities. Reimaging 21st century education is exactly what we have to do.”  

Afterward, CPCP Executive Director Jacqueline Cusack hosted an hour-long interview with Harris, whose decorated career includes logging a total of 438 hours and 7.2 million miles outside the Earth’s orbit as the first African-American to walk in space.  

Read more at news.njit.edu