New innovations emerge daily, forever altering what the world looks like. Our future holds so much opportunity; however, in my current position as the executive director of a nonprofit that advocates for STEM learning opportunities for kids, it's clear that our current systems are struggling to keep pace with the preparation students need to thrive. As STEM-based leaders, we must take bold leaps to build and sustain a promising future for all kids. Successful, large-scale change takes big ideas and partnerships—or, as we like to say, moonshots.

Learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) works best when it's experiential, inspiring curiosity. What environments are better to learn in than the outdoors, museums or unconventional spaces? Kids spend 80% of their time out of school; it is fundamental to a child’s learning to make those moments matter. Building a future where all children have the opportunity to research, inquire and explore beyond the classroom takes commitment—especially to scale what works.

Such success is possible when you build powerful partnerships that support the scale of your vision. By setting a clear call to action, organizations can spur public action around a shared goal, bringing together nonprofit, industry, corporate and funding partners from across the country to inspire systemic change. For example, in 2020, our organization placed a big bet on closing the gender equity gap in STEM and launched an initiative called Million Girls Moonshot to reach 1 million more girls in STEM through afterschool and summer learning by 2025. In just three years, we have reached almost 3 million young people, thanks to a clear goal and impactful partnerships. It is only when we work together that we can create the change we need to build a future of equal opportunities in STEM for every child.

We’ve learned that national moonshots work. Here are some important things to consider as you expand and scale your own big ideas for your STEM initiatives:

  • The right partners are key to success.
  • Scale solutions that work with people ready to do the work.
  • Engage all pieces of the puzzle.

Read the full article about big bets in STEM education by Ron Ottinger at Forbes.