BRONX, N.Y. (NNS) -- To counter the dwindling number of students interested in science and technology, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Iridescent opened the doors of a new learning center in Bronx, N.Y., Nov. 4 with a ribbon-cutting by the secretary of the Navy (SECNAV).
SECNAV Ray Mabus joined Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr; acclaimed social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada; Iridescent founder Tara Chklovski; Congressman Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.); and a host of New York City officials as they celebrated the opening of the studio with more than 2,000 students from the local community, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
With America's growing reliance on innovation, and a future where students must have a basic understanding of math and science, the Navy hopes the studio in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx will spark young people's interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, careers.
"This science studio won't do any good if you don't use it," Mabus told the students who were crowded under three giant tents on a rainy day. "You have to come back, and come back with your parents for this STEM partnership to work.
"We are doing this for selfish reasons," Mabus said of the Navy's investment in STEM programs aimed at K-12 students. "We want some of you to come work for and support the Navy. The Navy is very proud of this partnership and investment in the nation's future."
Carr, who as chief of naval research leads the Navy's science and technology organization, said the partnership with Iridescent benefits the Navy as well as underserved communities. Iridescent, an educational nonprofit, offers numerous resources for students and parents, including after-school programs, mentors and science discovery activities.
"I'm excited about our partnership with Iridescent and its reach into high-density underserved communities," Carr said. "The heart of this program is training college students to mentor students and work with their parents to kindle their interest in STEM."
Carr noted that a similar science studio, which opened last month in Los Angeles, has reached 5,000 students. He said he is looking for a bigger impact in New York City. "It's a perfect match with ONR's role in science and technology and the Secretary's desire to increase this outreach," Carr said.
Mabus, who at one time served as Mississippi's governor, told those in attendance he is interested in similar outreach efforts in rural areas across the country.
"Tomorrow, the space shuttle is taking off with six astronauts," Mabus said in his speech. "Not long ago, they were in middle and high school. Twenty years from now, I want you to be on the way to Mars. The Navy and this nation need you."
For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.