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Larisa Schelkin: Enhancing Access to Quality STEM Education

Larisa Schelkin: Enhancing Access to Quality STEM Education


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Larisa Schelkin, the CEO of Global STEM Education Center, Inc. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Hi Larisa, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is the Global STEM Education Center addressing?

Larisa: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! As a partner of the Global Learning and Observations to benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE) of the United States (US) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Global STEM Education Center addresses key challengesenhancing access to quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, fostering global environmental awareness, and promoting hands-on learning and equipping students with skills in research, technology, and environmental stewardship. Collaborating with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations General Assembly Science Summit, and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), we support environmental science diplomacy through education, furthering our mission to prepare young learners for global challenges and opportunities in STEM fields.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Larisa: Driven by a deep passion for STEM education, I co-founded the Global STEM Education Center to make a meaningful impact, especially in young learners' lives. My lifelong passion for environmental science diplomacy deeply informs our mission, integrating global environmental challenges into our educational approach. My commitment to fostering global awareness and collaboration, alongside personal growth and building a community of educators and students, fuels this endeavor. Witnessing the real-world impact of our work and believing in education's transformative power keeps me motivated.

Spiffy: That’s inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Larisa: As a US NASA GLOBE partner and educator, my work has a profound global impact, reaching students and educators across 127 countries. This extensive reach, facilitated by bilateral agreements with these nations, allows us to create a truly international platform for STEM education and environmental science. Our work significantly impacts both the educational and personal lives of students and educators worldwide. By providing quality STEM education with a focus on environmental science and creating a global network of learners and teachers, we're helping to shape a more informed, collaborative, and sustainable future.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Larisa: We address global challenges through environmental science diplomacy. Our work connects students and educators from 127 countries, fostering an understanding of these issues and skills for international cooperation. We support key UN Sustainable Development Goals, empowering young minds for critical thinking and action. Our global network enhances cross-cultural cooperation, vital for collective solutions. We're committed to nurturing informed, globally aware individuals, contributing to a sustainable future.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Larisa—it’s been an honor!

Larisa Schelkin is the CEO of Global STEM Education Center, Inc. She is a teaching faculty at the UNITAR Global Diplomacy Initiative fellowship program and the governing board member at the Journal for Science Policy & Governance (JSPG). Since 2021, she has been a global diplomacy fellow at UNITAR. She was a class of 2015 fellow in education policy and research at the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) in Washington DC. She is a proud NASA GLOBE partner. (Nominated by Pelayo Alvarez. First published on the Ladderworks website on February 21, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.