Re: “Close gap between supply and demand in computer science programs for WA students” [June 8, Opinion]:

Thank you for calling attention to the critical issue of building more enrollment capacity in computer science programs at Washington state colleges. The last two paragraphs of the editorial rightly highlight the imperative to fund initiatives that increase K-12 STEM programming in Washington.

Those initiatives should not be confined to school-based programming. Science education that occurs outside of school plays an essential role in building critical thinking, creativity and other skills in STEM fields.

These programs are particularly impactful for youth from under-resourced communities, who often have fewer opportunities to build interest in STEM and don’t typically see themselves represented — particularly girls and youth of color.

Institutions like the Pacific Science Center are an essential component of Washington’s STEM ecosystem. PacSci provides engaging science programming and world-class STEM experiences to students statewide. Exposing young people to these programs helps them think critically about the world and value science in their everyday lives.

Funding K-12 STEM programming — both inside and outside classrooms — is a crucial first step in cultivating and diversifying Washington’s talent pipeline. Approaches that overlook our young people threaten to close pathways for under-resourced youth and perpetuate the problems outlined in the editorial.

Sarah Buhayar, Seattle, board of directors, Pacific Science Center