If I had to use only one word to describe my meeting with the employees at Mobius, it would be Inspired.
Mobius is a start-up company working on creating biodegradable and compostable plastics. The founders and employees are all University of Tennessee students and the company is located in the technology hub of Roane County in Lenoir City. Currently they are working on biodegradable plastic sheeting for agriculture use and working on biodegradable pots for planting. The employees have a variety of engineering science backgrounds, some of which I did not even know existed as a separate field.
I learned about their process of creating, manufacturing and testing their products. We discussed science education in our K-12 schools and how we can foster more collaborative outreach programs between our colleges, universities, and local science companies.
Something we can start doing now is to bring more college and university science students into our middle and high school classrooms and allow them to discuss their experiences with science and explain why they enjoy science. We should also take more students out of the classrooms and into the fields and labs so they can see what having a career in science is all about. My opponent, Mr. Lafferty, has a similar idea with careers in trade fields. Mr. Lafferty advocates for a “Ride and Decide” program where students can shadow a skilled trade professional to decide which field to enter. Why stop at just trade fields? We should do this for all fields, especially STEAM fields.
As your State Representative, I can work on providing more incentives and resources for science start-ups. Many students leave Knoxville after graduating from UT because the science job they want is not here. I can also work to find more funding to allow companies to provide more volunteers and community outreach so we have more of a symbiotic relationship between our local schools and our local science companies.
I am a TN Achieves Mentor and I support TN Promise for 2 free years of community college. However, I have wondered if our students are even truly ready for college and how much of their free college tuition is spent on remedial classes? Could we spend that money on science labs in middle and high schools and more robust STEAM classes in K-12 instead of TN Promise?
We need to take a look at everything in our education system and make sure we are moving forward. We need to prepare our students for a career in STEAM and beyond and we need to foster entrepreneurial growth for STEAM start-ups in our communities.
I am inspiredby the creativity, ingenuity, and willingness of the Mobius employees to not only dream big, think big, and act big but also to share their skills with our community. The Mobius community is dedicated to outreach and getting our kids more engaged in STEAM. I say we support this and vote for me in November so we can help Mobius expand and also help more start-ups make the decision to pick our community to lay a foundation.