CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sylvia Acevedo on the Axios stage. Photo: Cheriss May for Axios

On Tuesday morning, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of science education and digital learning.

Tom Davidson, Founder and CEO, EVERFI
Tom Davidson in conversation with Mike Allen. Photo: Cheriss May for Axios

Founder and CEO of EVERFI, Tom Davidson, discussed how digital learning platforms can be used to bring high-quality curriculum to underserved areas and address unique learning needs.

  • On how digital tools can be used to teach valuable interpersonal skills for students: "Compassion is one of those things that actually you can teach using technology...[students can] get that muscle memory online and begin to apply that to the way that they approach those things in real life."
  • On inequality in education: "It’s taken this country 400 years to disadvantage kids from learning...This has been a compounding problem...communities that can afford [high-quality education] will get it."
Dr. Carol O'Donnell, Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center
Dr. Carol O'Donnell answers a question on stage. Photo: Cheriss May for Axios

Dr. Carol O'Donnell, the Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, highlighted the importance of hands-on learning in the sciences and having a diverse teaching workforce to make STEM accessible for young students of color.

  • On what Greta Thunberg has taught educators: "The voice of youth really matters…Young people are concerned but also very active. [They care] about the application of science in the real world."
  • On workforce development: "When we think about the future of work, so many of the professions will require science, technology, engineering and math skills not just in isolation, but truly integrated."
  • On how to make lasting change in the STEM sector: "If you want to diversify the STEM workforce, you have to also diversify the teaching workforce...too many of our students, especially students of color who don't see teachers who look like them don't believe that STEM is accessible to them."
Sylvia Acevedo, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sylvia Acevedo, focused on girls being able to protect and control their digital lives, as well as the importance of a civic education.

  • On Girl Scouts' new curriculum around cybersecurity, engineering, and technology: "The world around us has changed and girls need to be not just users of technology because so many of them have a mobile device in their hand, but they have to be able to be designers, creators, inventors."
  • On the lasting impact of civic engagement: "More than half of all female elected officials in America are Girl Scouts. 60% of the women in Congress. 75% percent of the senators. All three female secretaries of state. Girl Scouts. We see how a lifetime of leadership in civics is playing out in their lives."
  • On modernizing STEM education: "You cannot correct the STEM gap using the same curriculum that created the gap."
Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Former Administrator, NASA
Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr. on the Axios stage. Photo: Cheriss May for Axios

Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., the former Administrator of NASA, highlighted how storytelling is essential in communicating the importance of science to the wider public, as well as the significance of women and students of color seeing themselves represented across STEM.

  • On making social progress at NASA: "I don't think firsts are very important if there aren't seconds and thirds and fourths. So until there is another person of color to be the NASA administrator, or more importantly, until there is a woman NASA administrator, we really haven't done what we say, what we claim to be about."
  • On the importance of taking action on climate change: "People who want to go to Mars as an out can forget it. We are on the one planet that humanity knows can sustain life and we need to take care of it. You do not want to live your life in a spacesuit. So if you don't want to do that, preserve this planet, clean it up."

Thank you Amgen Foundation for sponsoring this event.

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Updated May 28, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Nursing homes on the frontline

On Thursday May 28, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen and Health Care Reporter Caitlin Owens hosted a conversation on the impact of the coronavirus on seniors in long-term care facilities with Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Sen. Casey discussed the scope of the pandemic, underscoring the need for the CMS and the CDC to provide data on outbreaks in facilities to help inform residents.

  • On the scale of the crisis: "37,000 people have died in long-term care settings. When you combine the number of residents who died with the number of workers, that's more than 1/3 of the total death count in the country. So this is a grave, serious problem that demands urgent action."
  • On the importance of having accurate, up-to-date data: "If you don't test and you don't have a sense of the scale and scope of the problem, you're not going to be able to deal with any kind of COVID-19 challenge."

Sen. Cassidy advocated for twice weekly testing in all nursing homes and discussed the economic burden that shutting down the economy places on young people.

  • On the need for more regular testing: "There are those who are at high risk of infection and then there are those who are at high risk if they get infected...The CDC has put out recommendations that we should be testing workers in nursing homes once weekly for the virus. I actually think that should be twice weekly."
  • On young people leading economic reopening: "The penalties for shutting down the economy disproportionately fall on the young. We should not penalize them more than we have to...they can benefit us by being our caregivers, working in the service industry — everything we need to have a functioning economy."

In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with Chief Advocacy Officer at AARP, Nancy LeaMond, about the necessity of keeping people in nursing homes connected with their loved ones and the challenge of making sure all nursing homes and long-term care facilities are meeting safety guidelines.

  • "We know that many nursing homes do not have adequate protective equipment and are not fully able to test and that it varies across the country...States like Arizona are very far behind. Maricopa County, which accounts for roughly half of the state's population is also accounting for about 83% of the deaths in nursing homes."

Thank you AARP for sponsoring this event.

Updated May 27, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the future of small businesses

On Wednesday, May 27, Axios Business Editor Dan Primack and Markets Reporter Courtenay Brown hosted a conversation on the future of small businesses with the owner and head chef of D.C.-based restaurant Kith and Kin Kwame Onwuachi and the author and co-owner of Parnassus Books Ann Patchett.

Onwuachi highlighted the limitations of the PPP loan for businesses and called for a restaurant stabilization fund to support workers and business owners in the service industry.

  • On the PPP loan: "It's a small Band-Aid on a large problem...And we need something to help [restaurants] restabilize. There's going to be a lot of costs that we're going to be incurring for reopening."
  • On access to PPP for restaurants run by immigrants or people of color: "They don't have those same relationships with their bankers and their accountants and their finance people in order to access those funds. Their names weren't put at the top of the list."

Patchett discussed how Parnassus Books has adapted to the current safety measures and how they're keeping customers and workers safe.

  • On reopening: "I don't think it's a gut thing [of when to decide to reopen], I think it's a science thing...It doesn't make any sense to be the leader in opening up a store where we could make our staff and our customers sick."
  • On how the bookstore model might change: "I think that if we have vaccines, we're going to be very much the same... [but] we do a lot of our business at big events. So that's really going to be the question. Are we going to be able to have those big author events?"

In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with head of Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group Margaret Anadu about how small businesses can get financial support during this economically turbulent time. Anadu highlighted Goldman Sachs loan data that shows that African American business owners have not been able to apply for PPP loans at the same rate as other businesses.

  • "A lot of those disparities...did not materialize overnight. They're not specifically and only related to the pandemic we're currently in, but they really shine a light on the disparities that have been in these communities for a long time."

Thank you Goldman Sachs for sponsoring this event.

Tech trend bleeds megacities, boosts heartland

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The top U.S. megacities boasting the highest economic growth and biggest talent-attracting companies may start losing people to other cities, thanks to the remote-work wave brought on by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: With more people finding long-term flexibility to work from anywhere, they have less reason to live in the most expensive cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. That could create a wave of rising-star cities that have already begun to attract people looking for a better quality of life.