Activision and SAS. You could hardly find two companies that are more different. Activision is a leading publisher of video games. SAS is a leader in business analytics software and services. But both companies agree on one very critical point: Jobs that require math and science are very cool.
Both companies shared first prize in a groundbreaking video contest to show just how exciting jobs requiring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be. We at Change the Equation (CTEq) sponsored the contest among our more than 110 corporate members to inspire more young people to pursue such jobs. CTEq is a non-profit, non-partisan CEO-led initiative to improve STEM learning in the United States.
Our members are united by a profound concern about the lackluster performance of American youth in math and science. In 2010, only 43 percent of U.S. high school grads were ready for college work in math, and a mere 29 percent were ready in science. And the latest international tests of math and science confirmed, once again, that U.S. students lag far behind students in other developed nations.
News like this brings home the point that far too many of our students are missing out. They're missing out on economic opportunity, to be sure, because jobs that use STEM skills pay well and fuel much of our economic growth. But they're also missing out on much of the most important and thrilling work of the 21st century. That's a message we have to send to our young people. The winning videos did just that.
Take the SAS video, for example. Your typical teen doesn't know what "business analytics" is. But the video makes it vivid. We hear SAS employees explain how they keep bad guys off the streets, fight climate change, improve cancer research, and create smart phone apps -- and that's just a start.
Unlike SAS, Activision is already part of the teen lexicon.There's hardly a teenager alive who doesn't know that Activision makes games. But Activision's video goes far deeper than that, showing the math, physics and complex anatomy beneath the sights, sounds and action that draw so many kids to gaming in the first place.
Both videos drive home the point that jobs requiring math and science defy the stereotypes that discourage too many young people from taking higher level courses in STEM. If we don't get that point across to many more of our kids, they could face a very grim future, indeed.
So take a look at our winning videos -- and share them with your friends.
Follow Linda Rosen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/changeequation