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Rep. Murphy commends collaboration between STEM Center, schools

Rep. Greg Murphy applauded the efforts of Inner Banks Stem Center Director Alvin Powell and his staff during a visit to the facility Wednesday morning.

Murphy, who represents the Third Congressional District in the U.S. House, spoke with Powell and members of the STEM Center board about the program’s history as well as its current initiatives and future plans. Powell also gave Murphy a tour of the facility, showing him the various tools that the STEM Center uses to teach middle school and high school students about aviation, boating, commerce and other topics related to science, technology, engineering and math.

Murphy said he’d like to see the implementation of more programs similar to the STEM Center.

“These programs help augment what’s going on in public schools,” Murphy said. “We want to be good collaborators, (using) every tool possible to help educate our younger kids, to let them know that there are opportunities available in the future for them.

“This is the perfect example of a collaborative effort, with this particular group and with the school system.”

The STEM Center works with Beaufort County Schools to provide lessons, camps and other activities that are designed to give students hands-on experience with various STEM topics while staying true to state curriculum guidelines and requirements.

According to its website, the STEM Center’s primary goal is to “create a sustainable and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program that will reach at-risk and under-represented middle school/high school youth to help prepare for the STEM employment requirements of the 21st century.” The program was founded in 2012.

Powell said one of the program’s missions is to give students a “21st-century skillset” that will help them excel in whatever career path they decide to pursue. He hopes that many of the students who come through the program ultimately decide to remain in Beaufort County and neighboring counties when they start their careers.

“Our pitch to the kids is none of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouth,” Powell said. “I’m a retired FBI agent and flew planes, and we have other career folks that did unique things. But we all started from something. Our pitch to the kids is learn how to deal with adversity, embrace the exposure you’re going to get during our summer camp, Saturday academy, after-school academy or what have you, and ask questions — because the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.”