Skills that are crucial to South Carolina’s future workforce and economy will come sharply into focus today as the state kicks off its first STEM Education Month.

The celebration is starting today because the date, 3/14, corresponds with the first three digits of the irrational number Pi, 3.14, and has come to be celebrated as Pi Day.

Students and their robots gather in the Statehouse as part of a celebration of STEM education.

Students and their robots help celebrate STEM in South Carolina.

The purpose of the celebration, which runs through April 11, is to highlight the growing number of career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, engineering, biotechnology, agriculture and other STEM-intensive professions available to South Carolina students in communities across the state.

“South Carolina attracts leading international manufacturers in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, life sciences and technology,” said Tom Peters, executive director of South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science. “Our goal is to raise awareness among the general public that STEM education is a path to a more prosperous state for all.”

Rep. Sylleste Davis of Moncks Corner describes STEM Education Month as “an excellent opportunity to recognize the hard work of our students and STEM educators across the great state of South Carolina.”

She added, “Today’s students will be the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow who keep our state strong into the future.”

STEM Education Month is organized by South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science, a center within Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

The month’s highlights include:

Funding for new projects: Five schools have been awarded grants of up to $2,500 as part of the SCCMS program “Growing in SC: The Future of STEAM is Here.” The winning schools are St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic High School in Myrtle Beach; Oakbrook Elementary School in Ladson; Oak Pointe Elementary School in Irmo; Bethel Elementary School in Simpsonville; and Eleanor Rice Elementary School in Greenwood. For details about the projects, contact Pattiann Taylor at ptaylor@clemson.edu.

STEM Educator of the Year: Finalists are Chris Beyerle of Fisher Middle School in Greenville; Kirstin Bullington of Richland Two Institute of Innovation in Columbia; Derenda “Dee” Marshall of Waccamaw Intermediate School on Pawleys Island; Tracy Elmore of Lugoff Middle School in Lugoff; and Amy Baldwin of Oakbrook Middle School in Ladson.

STEM Educator of the Year is made possible by Comporium in partnership with South Carolina Future Minds, Dominion Energy, and SCCMS.