BY NASREEN IQBAL Niqbal@opubco.com • Modified: November 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm • Published: November 9, 2013
A silent auction benefited the Oklahoma Afterschool Network and its efforts to increase participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.
Principal Technologies, an Oklahoma City recruiting firm founded by Pam Fountain-Wilks, hosted the Nov. 1 auction to celebrate the company’s 15th anniversary with the hope of involving STEM-based companies in the fundraising process.
“We were looking for a fun way to give back to the community and we found Oklahoma Afterschool Network. We just love them because, in a lot of ways, they support our efforts of supplying candidates to Oklahoma’s growing industries,” Fountain-Wilks said.
Fountain-Wilks said a declining interest in STEM professions prompted Gov. Mary Fallin to form the Governor’s Science and Technology Council with a goal of raising $4 billion for Oklahoma’s STEM programs by 2020.
According to the council’s study, each year less than two-thirds of graduating college students are prepared to fill the growing number of jobs in STEM companies throughout Oklahoma.
Sheryl Lovelady, executive director of Oklahoma Afterschool Network, said a goal is to expose Oklahoma’s students to STEM subjects at a young age and in a fun way to increase their participation and interest in those subjects throughout the duration of their lives.
“Studies suggest that if we don’t engage a girl’s interest in STEM subjects by the time she’s 8 — and boys by the time he’s 10 — we’ve lost them,” Lovelady said.
Fountain-Wilks said about 75 people attended the event, and $2,530 was raised to help make the network’s goal possible.
Members from companies such as Elemental Coffee, Hilton Garden Inn Bricktown, Route 66 Gift Shop, Science Museum Oklahoma, Nothing Bundt Cakes and the Oklahoma City Thunder donated items for the auction and placed bids on items including courtside Thunder tickets, massage and facial packages, museum tickets and jewelry.