It’s not often that high school students get the chance to sit down with world-renowned philanthropists and change-agents Bill and Melinda Gates. But on February 23, more than 50 extraordinary students from around the world—members of the New York Academy of Sciences’ Global STEM Alliance—will get the chance to do just that. They’ve been invited to discuss their ideal “superpower for good” at a Q&A session hosted by best-selling author and YouTube personality John Green, which will kick off the Gates’2016 Annual Letter.
On Wednesday, the students will also take part in a segment on Good Morning America, in which they will ask Bill and Melinda questions about the Annual Letter topics.
The students hail from 10 countries, practice many religions, and embody a range of socio-economic backgrounds; but all share a common passion for and commitment to “STEM”—science, technology, engineering, and math. Selected from thousands of applicants from more than 100 countries, these students are part of an inaugural class of 600 high school-age students in two innovative, internet-based New York Academy of Sciences initiatives, The Junior Academy and 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures.
Over the course of a year, these students spend their own free time engaged in educational programming where they learn skills such as the fundamentals of research, how to take on a leadership role, and how to work cross-culturally. A major tenet of both programs is mentorship; students work closely with extremely accomplished scientists and engineers from academia and industry. These STEM professionals not only help students with the curricula—designed to better prepare students for the STEM jobs of tomorrow—but also serve as their inspiration for dreaming big. Ultimately, many of these students engage in real-world challenges designed by their mentors to give them a feel for the power and value of science and technology to address the world’s biggest problems.
“Bill and Melinda Gates are known throughout the world for their commitment to solving the world’s most urgent human problems,” says Ellis Rubinstein, President & CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences. “We are thrilled that the Gates chose our gifted student members to participate in a frank discussion of the Gates’ priorities when it comes to global challenges. We can’t imagine a more inspiring experience for our students.”
At the event, students will discuss Melinda and Bill’s ideal superpowers for good, including Melinda’s desire for “more time” (referring to the concept of global “time poverty” due to the burden of unpaid work that falls disproportionately on women and girls, and the potential that is lost in the process) and Bill’s desire for “more energy” (specifically, clean, affordable, reliable energy worldwide).
The Gates Annual Letter is an ideal conversation topic for these committed students who know that STEM is the answer to addressing many of our pressing global challenges. In advance of today’s meeting, the 50 Student Members of the Academy each chose their own ideal “superpower for good” and expounded upon it in a short essay.
“We know that many of these students will in fact make progress toward their ideal ‘superpowers’ through science and technology. Through the Global STEM Alliance, the Academy and its partners are not only helping students to make inroads into the real-life STEM community, we’re preparing the STEM leaders of tomorrow,” says Rubinstein.
Watch the conversation between Bill and Melinda Gates and the students of the Global STEM Alliance via LiveStream on February 23, 2016 at 1pm EST.