IAmNYAS: Jonathan Isaac Schneiderman
A Q&A with Afterschool STEM Mentor Jonathan Isaac Schneiderman.
Dr. Jonathan Schneiderman was born in Texas, spent most of his life in Israel, and returned to the US to pursue a PhD in Genetics. Jonathan has worked at the lab bench for 12 years both as a graduate student and as a postdoctoral research fellow, conducting experiments on gene expression and repression in eukaryotes. In addition to research, he has been involved in teaching numerous courses and has mentored many students within the lab setting.
Jonathan has also been heavily engaged in community outreach and has served both as an afterschool STEM Education Fellow with the New York Academy of Sciences and as a mentor with the Science Outreach Lab at Rockefeller University. He is currently working at a leading pharmaceutical advertising agency. His roles include internal education on drugs and disease states, as well as providing clients with science-driven strategic recommendations.
Why and how are STEM education and the Global STEM Alliance important to you?
STEM education is an important equalizer. It bridges two main societal gaps. The first is the one that stems from a lack of early exposure to science in certain populations. This inequality snowballs and greatly diminishes the likelihood of disadvantaged kids to pursue higher education later in life.
The second gap is the one between science and the public. Research is primarily funded by tax payers, yet is conducted behind closed doors and a wall of technical jargon. STEM education delivers science to a wider audience. It does this not only by making science more accessible, but also by highlighting its significance and application. Bringing STEM into the classroom helps shape inquisitive minds, and that, in my opinion, fuels the creation of healthier communities.
What are/were your goals for participation in the Global STEM Alliance?
My goal in being a STEM mentor was not to relay specific scientific content, but rather to make genuine connections. The main problem is that although we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel science all the time, for most of us its very concept is extremely alienating. My
was to put a friendly face on science; to have kids realize that it is a part of everything they do, and as such is something with which they are already very familiar.
What is the most important benefit you feel the Global STEM Alliance provides?
The fear of failure keeps many kids from investing in things that they believe they may not be good at. Seeding a positive relationship with science at an early age builds confidence; it tells kids that they are smart enough, empowers them to ask questions, and to critically assess the answers that they get in response. The benefit of awakening curiosity and independent thinking in kids extends much further than just learning about STEM. Confidence is long-lasting, and it will fuel their ambition in whichever path they choose.