Boeing program aims to inspire 5th graders to pursue math, science careers

Boeing has been on a hiring spree for several years to meet the demand for new aircraft from world airlines.


But the company is worried about the future. In another decade, its hiring managers believe it may be very difficult to find enough employees with the science and math skills needed to design and build planes.


Enter Katie Davis’s 5th grade class from Discovery Elementary in the Mukilteo School District. At 10 and 11 years old, Davis's students are said to be the youngest kids ever allowed into Boeing's Everett plant -- the world’s biggest building -- to watch from the galleries as 747s, 777s and 787 Dreamliners are put together.


In another 12 years, many of these kids will be graduating from college and looking for jobs. And Boeing wants to make sure they are qualified to work for the aerospace giant.


“We’re talking about walking into this building and saying, 'Wow, this is amazing!'” said Ross Wilson Jr., a 27-year Boeing veteran who’s now leading a special project to expose younger people to the potential of a career in aerospace.


Boeing has conducted outreach to high school and college students for decades. The company operates a big college intern program aimed primarily at recruiting engineers.  But the country as a whole has a problem generating enough workers who do well in math and science. And just about everything at Boeing involves math and science, from tracking the millions of parts that go into each plane, to coming up with complex calculations to design efficient new jets, to creating biofuels to power them.


"If we can plant that in them today -- to do their math, to do their science -- by the time they come out of high school they’ll be so much more ahead in their opportunities to come here and work for Boeing,” said Wilson.


“Some of these kids have never been on an airplane before," said teacher Katie Davis. "Just seeing the planes up close, for some of these kids is going to be life changing.”  


Davis said Discovery Elementary is a school where many kids come from low-income families. Just like kids who go to a Mariners game and want to become professional ball players, she said kids who visit Boeing's plant may get the inspiration to aim for a job there. 


Other fifth grade classes from Discovery Elementary will tour the world’s largest factory as part of a pilot program that could end up expanding to other schools.


source: http://www.king5.com/news/aerospace/Boeing-program-aims-to-inspire-5th-graders-to-pursue-math-science-careers-178012341.html

Editorial: New governor needs to be the nation’s first STEM education governor

Whether Republican Rob McKenna or Democrat Jay Inslee wins next month, the new governor must lead the way in preparing our students for bright futures and good jobs by focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Washington ranks No. 1 in the concentration of STEM jobs in the U.S. We are home to world-renowned employers in aerospace, technology, health care, energy and manufacturing. STEM jobs are growing faster and pay better than non-STEM jobs.

Furthermore, skills fostered by STEM subjects – the ability to solve real-world problems, analyze data and design new solutions – are increasingly in demand at every level and sector of the economy.

Sadly, we are not preparing Washington’s next generation – particularly students of color and students from low-income communities – to secure jobs in our state.

Washington has broad and persistent achievement gaps and lackluster performance on national tests, especially compared with similar states. We spend $93 million each year on remedial math education to teach college freshmen things they should have learned in high school.

While the state ranks fourth in the country for technology-based corporations, it falls to 46th for participation in science and engineering graduate programs.

The economic impact is clear. Even in today’s economy, almost 30,000 jobs in Washington will go unfilled due to a lack of qualified STEM candidates over the next five years.

Both candidates have made growing our economy and improving our public schools a centerpiece of their campaigns. Achieving these two goals is vital for Washington’s future. The next governor’s success will largely depend on his leadership on advancing STEM education.

We offer two concrete suggestions to help the winner deliver on these promises:

 • Ensure that every young Washingtonian receives a high-quality STEM education as part of her basic education. As lawmakers deliberate how to fund a basic education – our state’s paramount duty – let’s bear in mind that Washington’s constitution defines education as “the basic knowledge and skills needed to compete in today’s economy and meaningfully participate in the state’s democracy.”

A basic education, then, must equip every student for success in our dynamic STEM-driven economy and society.

This goal is well within reach. The new K-12 Common Core State Standards – adopted by Washington and 45 other states – and forthcoming Next Generation Science Standards foster critical thinking, teach STEM concepts and applications, and prepare students for college and careers after they graduate high school. Effective implementation of these new standards will ensure that we finally deliver on the promise of basic education.

In the next governor, we need a champion to ensure that teachers are trained, schools have the resources to support all students, and families understand the benefits.

 • Increase the number of students who earn a postsecondary degree in STEM. Sixty-seven percent of all jobs in Washington will require postsecondary degrees by 2018; the projections rise to 94 percent for STEM jobs.

The next governor must help businesses and postsecondary institutions develop innovative certificate and degree programs such as those at the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center in Everett. He must also advocate for the Washington Opportunity Scholarship program, with the priority on producing degrees in high-demand STEM fields, such as computer science, and reaching students most in need of state aid.

The new governor will take office at a critical time. Will we continue to build our STEM economy with homegrown talent, as Microsoft, Boeing, and others were built? Will we prepare our native daughters and sons – of all colors and communities – for tomorrow’s jobs?

Or will we let our education system languish, forcing employers to recruit from afar and relegating our young people to low-wage work or outright unemployment.

It’s up to us, and it’s up to the next governor of Washington to lead the nation in closing the gap between STEM jobs and STEM-qualified graduates.

The growing network of educators, parents, community members and business leaders brought together by Washington STEM stand ready to help.

Patrick D’Amelio is CEO of Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit advancing excellence, equity, and innovation in STEM education. For more information, see www.washingtonstem.org.



source: http://www.theolympian.com/2012/10/30/2302200/new-governor-needs-to-be-the-nations.html

Grant to help promote STEM education

WALLA WALLA — A local nonprofit that brings science explorations to middle school girls has benefited from a donation from the Verizon Wireless Foundation.

The Great Explorations in Education organization, the nonprofit arm of the Walla Walla branch of the American Association of University Women, was awarded a $4,000 grant, said Carol Morgan, GEE board of directors member.

Grant money will be used to help offset the costs of the 2013 Great Explorations Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Conference for girls in fifth through eighth grades. More than 300 girls have attended each of the group’s past two conferences, Morgan said.

Verizon timed its donation with the release of its 4G LTE network in the local market. The $4,000 donation is a play on the 4G cellular network, said Scott Charlston, Verizon spokesman.

Charlston said the Verizon Foundation supports education and charitable efforts, in particular those with a focus on STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Walla Walla area is the company’s 400th market in the U.S. to receive the 4G LTE, high-speed wireless network. The network release, which was held Oct. 18 at the Verizon store in College Place, provided the chance to make a charitable donation, Charlston said. The Great Explorations in Education group was selected with help from the Blue Mountain Community Foundation because the group stresses the value of science-geared learning.

“There is a problem with kids just deciding in middle school, ‘I don’t like science, I don’t like technology, engineering, math,’” Charlston said. “We want to address programs that target that age group. We want to show them how powerful STEM education really is.”

The Great Explorations in Education conference in 2011 featured astronaut Dottie Metcalf, a Whitman College graduate, as the keynote speaker.

Morgan said part of the grant money will go to offset costs related to the conference such as needs-based fee waivers for participating students, and travel and presentation expenses for the keynote speaker.

Costs associated with the conferences also include panelists who present a parent and educator portion, and more than 20 women working in STEM careers who present in classrooms and conduct outreach for students in outlying school districts.

Great Explorations in Education partners with Whitman College, Walla Walla Public Schools and the YWCA to present the STEM program every two years, Morgan said.

The 2013 conference is scheduled March 23 at Whitman College and will feature keynote speaker Jody Wolf, Morgan said. Wolf is the assistant crime lab administrator with the Phoenix Police Department. “Think CSI,” Morgan said in an e-mail.

Charlston said careers in crime labs have gained appeal among young people in part because of television programming.

“Because of the popularity of the TV shows, it’s a very high profile type job,” Charlston said.

“Verizon hires a fair amount of people who are engineers and scientists and technologists,” he said. “We depend on the U.S. education system to turn out a good number of electrical, mechanical engineers, because we’re going to hire them.”



source: http://union-bulletin.com/news/2012/oct/27/grant-help-promote-stem-education/

UW touts computer science growth

A boost from the Legislature -- plus grants from the likes of Amazon.com -- is increasing the size the University of Washington's computer science program by 25 percent this year.

That includes an increase of undergraduates being accepted to the program from about 160 a year to 200 a year, according to Hank Levy, chairman of the Computer Science and Engineering Department.

Levy and other faculty provided the update during the school's annual Industrial Affiliates meeting with tech companies and investors who support the program and recruit its graduates.

The school also has successfullyh recruited top-tier faculty, including world experts in machine learning, and more hires are in the works.

"We've had really the most remarkable year in our history," Levy said. "Not only did we hire a lot of people, we hired phenomenal people."

The state shifted nearly $8 million to boost engineering programs at the UW and Washington State University this year, providing $3.8 million for each school.

Levy said the UW computer science program requested $1.8 million of that funding and received $1.6 million. It's hoping to receive an additional $1 million in funds that will come from having so many additional students in the program.

In addition to boosting undergraduate enrollment, the department is adding 50 new Ph.D. students -- twice as many as last year, he said. Also doubling is the number of students in the fifth year master's program, which is growing from 10 to 20 students per year.

The event included recruiting sessions and research presentations in areas such as wireless power, human-computer interaction and privacy.

A lunchtime lecture was given by Carlos Guestrin, a machine-learning professor that the UW lured from Carnegie Mellon University with a $1 million endowment from Amazon.com.

Guestrin provided an overview of the GraphLab distributed computation framework that's being used to explore the capability of smaller computing systems to analyze enormous datasets.

One of the most dramatic examples Guestrin offered of its efficiency is a related project called GraphChi, which can use a Mac Mini PC to tally billions of Twitter relationships, doing in 18 seconds what previously took hours of work by a cluster of hundreds of computers.


source: http://seattletimes.com/html/technologybrierdudleysblog/2019515276_uw_touts_computer_science_grow.html?syndication=rss

Editorial: Microsoft’s plan to boost skilled workforce shows promise

Microsoft’s proposal that Congress expand slots for high-skilled foreign workers while adding fees to such visas to boost investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education kills two birds with one stone.

First, it helps to solve a business-stifling shortage of such workers and provides a way to prepare more American children to take these jobs in the future.

The software giant has 6,000 job openings — more than half are in software development, research and related areas. Microsoft is not alone. The U.S. lags behind other countries in the percentage of STEM-educated graduates produced. A growing dependence on computer software and automation in many industries, including retail and health care, broadens the problem beyond high-tech companies.

To fill high-skilled jobs that go unfilled by American citizens, Microsoft proposes Congress increase the number of H-1B visa permits by 20,000. It also suggests Congress carve out 20,000 green cards from a backlog of half a million so STEM professionals could stay and work in this country. Visa permit fees and the costs associated with green card applications — both borne by businesses — would be raised from a couple of thousand dollars to $10,000 and $15,000 per foreign hire.

The estimated $500 million raised annually from the higher fees would fund a STEM-education effort modeled after the successful reforms inspired by the Race to the Top federal grant program.

Microsoft proposes spending the money in some key areas including more computer-science classes in high school. Currently, advanced-placement computer-science courses are in only a fraction of our high schools nationwide.

Other smart targets for the funds would be more STEM teachers and computer-technology learning in early grades, and more counselors to improve the current ratio of one college counselor to every 700 students.

The gap is widening between job openings that require STEM-related college degrees and job candidates with the requisite skills. A sense of urgency accompanies this dilemma since the U.S. is expected to add 120,000 computer-related jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees per year over the next decade. Unfortunately, our public universities and colleges produce only about 40,000 bachelor’s degrees annually.

Partisan divisions in Congress have blocked movement on immigration reform, but Microsoft offers an elegant solution to fill more jobs now while preparing more U.S. children for those jobs in the future.



source: http://seattletimes.com/html/editorials/2019291630_editmicrosoftproposalxml.html

Clark College science/tech building closer to reality

State education officials have given Clark College the green light to finalize design work on a $38 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building that they hope will be under construction in spring 2014.

School administrators say the building will serve increased demand for STEM training. Plans for the new building, to be located across Fort Vancouver Way from the main campus, feature modern instructional amenities and sustainable design.

Funding for the project from the Washington's capital budget had been delayed two years because of last year's state fiscal crisis, according to Bob Williamson, the college's vice president of administrative services.

"We put the design process on hiatus, as per instructions from the state board," Williamson said in an email. "But now that construction dollars are in the pipeline, we will bring back the STEM planning team later this fall."

Clark College had submitted the STEM building project to the state as a growth project, with the school to receive pre-design and design funding in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Had the project continued on schedule, construction funding would have been available last year.

The building and its STEM programs will respond to growing student interest in technical education, providing students with skills that many employers say are critical to success in today's workplace. Despite an expected decline in enrollment overall and in STEM classes this year, Clark College's attendance remains close to 14,000 students — much higher than when the project was conceived and submitted.

"STEM has certainly been a nationwide focus, to support more STEM graduates," Williamson said. Clearly we made a good case that we needed additional modern space to accommodate growing student interest in the STEM fields."

The 70,000-square-foot building will house 10 classrooms, 11 labs, study areas and faculty offices for two major divisions of Clark College's STEM program. The life sciences and physical science, and engineering departments are currently housed in the Science building and Anna Pechanec Hall, both of which were constructed in the late 1950's. Those programs will move to the new building. The school's math department will remain in Bauer Hall.

The space being vacated by programs moving to the STEM building will be converted to other classroom and administrative uses.

The three-story structure will feature state-of-the-art instructional and lab facilities, as well as exposed architecture intended to serve as a learning tool for students, according to Jim Green, Clark College's Director of Facilities Services.

For instance, engineering students studying heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems or structural design will be able to directly observe those systems at work in the building. Other features will include integrated study and teaching spaces, as well as integrated equipment for performing science experiments such as a drop tower.

In addition to providing updated instructional facilities, the new building will be designed and built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Design standards. The LEED standard provides certification of building projects based on performance criteria in areas such as water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable sites.

New buildings such as this are typically Silver LEED certified, Green said. However, the Clark College building at Columbia Tech Center received a higher Gold certification last year, and Green expects the new STEM building to receive the same rating.

"Certainly from the building perspective, we're proud of that," Green said. "That represents sustainability, which is important to the college."

Administrators expect the STEM building to open for classes in fall quarter 2015.

source: http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/sep/26/stem-education-clark-college-sciencetech-building/ 

STEM educators branch out

Spokane-area school and business leaders are working jointly this - year to expand education programs aimed at steering more youth toward math- and science-related careers.

The heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning has picked up steam nationally, in the state, and in the Inland Northwest because significant job growth is expected in careers requiring these skills, STEM proponents in Spokane say.

Several tangible steps to boost STEM learning here have gained traction in the past two years.

In April, a $220,000 state grant along with $40,000 in regional matching funds launched the Spokane STEM Learning Network, a consortium involving leaders in education for kindergarten-to 12th grade, universities and colleges, businesses, youth groups, and Greater Spokane Incorporated.

"There's a huge amount of interest in STEM with technology and also health care being so critical to Spokane's economy," says John Winder, executive director since May of the Spokane STEM Learning Network. His office is based at GSI.

The $220,000 grant came from Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit launched in March 2011 to advance STEM education with financial support from some large state-based business employers as well as philanthropic foundations. Supporters in the state include Boeing Co., Battelle, McKinstry Co., and Microsoft Corp., among others.

Winder says dozens of STEM-related programs are operating in individual Inland Northwest schools or led by community groups.

"We're here just to help things happen at a higher level," he adds. "If kids are more capable in math and science, it positions them to do better in school, and they might enter STEM fields, which are really becoming the drivers of the U.S. economy." One new STEM education model in Spokane will begin Sept. 4 when the Riverpoint Academy opens on the Riverpoint Campus for 75 high school students from the Mead School District. Starting the first year with juniors, the program by next year is scheduled to be a two-year STEM academy for a total of 150 high school juniors and seniors.

By the third year, a portion of enrollment will open to students from other public school districts, says Dan Butler, Mead School District assistant superintendent.

"A STEM academy downtown has really resonated with the Spokane community," Butler says. "We want students to take their passions one step further and see how those passions work in the real world." He adds that the students will solve challenges presented as projects that require science, technology, engineering, and math to solve the problems, as well as entrepreneurial approaches to implement ideas. "The community has already started to bring us those ideas," he says.

One of those challenges includes how to make downtown Spokane more senior citizen friendly, Butler says, and how to use engineering design systems to achieve that goal.

To start the program, the Mead district is leasing about 10,000 square feet of class and lab space in the Innovate Washington building, at 665 N. Riverpoint, where the students will complete the STEM-based projects. Equipped with iPads as well as other computers, students will use labs in the building and often will work alongside engineers, scientists, and others employed in fields requiring STEM skills.

The students will have three Mead district teachers on site - one for biomed, a second for language arts, and another for entrepreneurship, Butler says. They'll also have Eastern Washington University or Spokane Community Colleges instructors for math, depending on ability, with the EWU-led students receiving college credit. The SCC-led students will be prepared for college-level math.

"There is some real synergy that's happening," Butler says, about partnering with Washington State University Spokane, EWU, SCC, and GSI. The district also is staffing a principal at the site. "Next year, we'll add the engineering instructor and others," he says.

State per-student funding will pay for Mead's Riverpoint Academy program, Butler says, so students won't need to pay tuition to attend the program.

For the entire district, Butler adds that Mead has grown its STEM offerings in the past two years to include classes in biomed, engineering, aerospace engineering, and architectural engineering at the high school level.

STEM programs also are growing at the middle schools and even include the recent addition of a fifth-grade STEM science class, Butler says.

Separately, several science teachers from the Inland Northwest and elsewhere have completed sessions the past two summers at WSU Spokane on applying techniques of Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit that offers biomedicine and engineering curricula.

The nonprofit's hands-on biomedical curriculum in which teachers learn to dissect sheep hearts, analyze DNA for disease risk, and are educated on other scientific techniques is now used for instruction in at least 14 Spokane-area high schools.

One of those schools, Rogers High School, has partnered with Spokane-based Jubilant HollisterStier Contract & Manufacturing Services.

The company, which makes sterile allergy products, earlier this year offered to fund a laboratory at Rogers, to fill it with scientific equipment, and support Project Lead The Way training for a Rogers teacher, WSU Spokane says on its website.

Elsewhere in Spokane Public Schools, the New Tech Skill Center, at 4141 N. Regal in Hillyard, plans future expansion to create space for technical courses in dentistry, nursing, medical laboratory technology, and physical and occupational therapy, among other disciplines.

The district has applied for construction money to be allocated in the 2013-2015 biennium.

Another STEM-related program set to open in early September is Spokane Valley Tech, a Central Valley School District-led branch to the Spokane district's New Tech Skill Center.

The Valley center will offer advanced aerospace and manufacturing with a STEM focus - as a single course - as well as sports medicine with a STEM emphasis. It also will have cosmetology and fire science programs.

By fall 2013, the Valley tech center will add biomedicine and engineering courses. Central Valley is collaborating with East Valley, West Valley, and Freeman school districts for future use of a 51,500-square-foot building at the southeast corner of University Road and Sprague Avenue that's about to be remodeled.

Until scheduled completion of that remodeling project in January, classes will be housed temporarily in Valley school locations.

To assist both Valley Tech and the Riverpoint Academy in a pilot partnering program, GSI recently hired a manager to help place at least 150 high school students in workplace internships targeted to begin this year, says Shelly O'Quinn, GSI director of education and workforce.

"This is a pilot project that CV and Mead have invested in that will ultimately impact the entire community," O'Quinn says.

"Our focus will be on the STEM biomedical, engineering, manufacturing, and aerospace fields," she adds about the internships. "These will be specific to high school students. If you look nationally at the number of students who start college and drop out the first year or second year, the number is dismal. A lot of them don't have any idea of how many opportunities are out there." O'Quinn says that fewer young adults today have the opportunity to be in summer jobs or internships to see what a job would be like and to evaluate career choices better.

"This gives them some skills about how to conduct themselves at a workplace, where they can see what the relevancy is behind what they're learning in the classroom," O'Quinn says.

Another regional challenge, says Winder, is finding ways to keep more students on track for entering college, at least for two years of post-secondary education.

"But with STEM occupations, about 70 percent require at least a bachelor's degree," he adds.

The Washington STEM nonprofit contends on its website that in the next five years, the state will have at least 5,000 jobs in STEM fields that will go unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates.

Examples of in-demand jobs include positions in health sciences, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace, proponents here say.

However, they add that increasingly, a majority of jobs across multiple sectors require a solid foundation in STEM knowledge.

O'Quinn adds, "It's not just another fad. If you look at the top 30 jobs in demand, all require STEM education." Regarding other steps to advance STEM learning, O'Quinn also credits the Spokane nonprofit Mobius Spokane with its Mobius Science Center and Mobius Kids Children's Museum in the downtown core.

Mobius Spokane has received a $9,500 state award to fund a project called Connect with STEM, in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, for an out-of-school program offering hands-on STEM learning experiences for girls.

The project for 50 middle-school girls is aimed at increasing STEM identity and proficiency, and improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


source: http://technews.tmcnet.com/news/2012/09/20/6597570.htm



Toppenish High School Principal Wins National Award

Toppenish High School Principal, Trevor Greene has been named the 2013 Metlife/NASSP High School Principal of the Year.


The MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Program acknowledges outstanding school leadership and the crucial role of principals who go above and beyond to make their schools the best they can be for students, teachers, and communities. 


Greene has been the principal of Toppenish High School in Yakima since 2009. School officials say since then he has transformed the school culture into one that expects success, graduation and opportunities for the students. As the principal, Greene has added courses, including 27 "Project Lead The Way" engineering and biomedical science classes, a Microsoft IT Academy class, and a robotics class. He made it possible for students to earn 30 college credits by the time they graduate from high school. Green also works towards making parental and community involvement a priority, reaching out to the migrant families and the Yakima Nation on the very reservation where he grew up.


The Thursday morning award was a complete shock to Greene; Toppenish School District Superintendent John Cerna elected to schedule a surprise assembly to present the award after receiving notification from MetLife/NASSP three weeks ago. Greene will be honored at a black tie gala in Washington, D.C., on September 21 to kick off National Principals Month.


The national principal of the year search began in early 2012 as each state principals association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. Greene and Laurie Barron, the national middle level winner, were then selected. Greene and Barron will each receive a grant of $5,000, which must be used to improve school learning.


source: http://www.kndo.com/story/19474755/toppenish-high-school-principal-wins-national-award



Economic leaders push for focus on STEM education

It seems like you can't enter a conference room these says without hearing the latest buzzword making the rounds in education and industry circles: STEM.


Economic Alliance Snohomish County attracted a few dozen education and industry heavyweights to Edmonds Community College on Thursday to discuss what STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- means for the county's employers, especially those in high tech.


"How are we going to compete as a region?" That question was posed by Shannon Affholter, EASC's executive vice president for business development, addressing the audience and panelists Amanda Goertz from the Future of Flight and Mark Lewis of Washington STEM. "Our goal is not just to have a great 'Kumbayah' moment here."


Lewis said the goal of his organization, which is funded by the Washington Business Roundtable, is to help the public understand the importance of STEM education.


"To put it bluntly, we're overproducing an underprepared workforce," he said. "We have a profound sense of urgency. We're trying to articulate what STEM is and what it means to the community."


Washington STEM awards classroom grants of $2,000 to $20,000 to "advance a new generation of innovators," Lewis said. Larger grants of $25,000 to $200,000 are designed to "advance programs that work."


The STEM movement isn't limited to Washington state. Lewis said Washington STEM is working with similar organizations in North Carolina, Oregon, New York, Texas and Ohio to share best practices while working with industry experts and teachers to develop STEM curriculum.


"It's a real-world issue and it requires kids to struggle" for answers, Lewis said. "I think we take the struggle out of the education system, and that's a disservice to our kids."


Goertz said she's working with educators to see which STEM curricula work and which don't.


"I think teachers are overtaxed," she said. "They don't have time to tap into external sources" such as Washington STEM.


Internal and external factors that support the educational status quo are the biggest issues STEM faces, Lewis said.


"That's a real challenge for us," he said. "The view is it's for 'smart kids.' STEM is for everyone. We need to make it accessible."


The Toppenish School District adopted a STEM curriculum three years ago and is seeing results. Toppenish Superintendent John Cerna said one-third of Toppenish students are migrant or transitional bilingual, and 99.8 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches based on family income. Despite the poverty and language deficits, Toppenish High School's graduation rate is 90 percent, and 133 of 149 graduates in the class of 2012 received scholarships worth $1.7 million.


"Most of the kids live in poverty, but that can't be a reason to remain in poverty," Cerna said.


Toppenish High School started STEM in 2009 with three sections of Introduction to Engineering Design, he said. Now the school offers 27 sections of STEM classes. They're so popular that the school's 20-seat studio has more students than work stations.


Cerna said his school board is prepared to commit more resources to bring STEM to the lower grades, even though it's an expensive proposition.


"I think we've come a long way in three years," Cerna said. "Before STEM, we couldn't fill a calculus class. We went from seven kids to 76 kids."


What clicked for Toppenish kids was seeing the everyday relevancy of STEM education, Cerna said.


"Look," he said. "We have architecture and engineering all around us."


source: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20120913/BIZ/709139864/1005/BIZ




Saghalie Middle School is off to an exciting start with STEM teams at 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The mascot of our school is a Skyhawk. This visual has a double meaning this year as our students take flight on an educational adventure that will empower them to soar to the highest point. As we began the year it was important to define ourselves as a STEM Academy and to be able to articulate what that means to our students, parents and community partners. It was a long and exciting process to write our vision and mission statements.

Vision: Saghalie Middle School STEM Academy students inquire about future career fields and apply collaboration, presentation, technological, and inquiry processes through highly engaging student-centered activities based on local and global issues.

Mission: We exist to connect students to pathways of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics using effective reading, writing, and communication skills.

source: http://washingtonstem.org/blog/2012/09/06/2846/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stem-academy-takes-flight



Patrick D’Amelio sees a love for science, technology, engineering, and math, or “STEM”, in his own young children, Etta, 7, and Dylan, 6.

“They are naturally curious – from exploring plants and bugs in the garden to watching with utter fascination as a skyscraper is built to simply making pasta at home. My kids want to know how things work and why, and they love to invent, test, and try new things; they are natural scientists and engineers.  And it’s not just my own kids. Throughout my career, I’ve seen children from all walks of life approach the world through a STEM lens,” he said. “The incredible opportunity we have at Washington STEM is to figure out how to reinforce kids’ innate curiosity. Our goal is to prepare and inspire all young people in STEM so that Washington has successful students, thriving communities, and a vibrant economy.”

In his new role as CEO of Washington STEM, Patrick brings 20 years of nonprofit experience from his work at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, The Alliance for Education, and The Catholic Youth Organization. Patrick has dedicated his career to helping youth unlock their potential. During his first month with Washington STEM, Patrick has been learning about the organization’s work since its launch last year and about STEM education efforts across the state and nation.

“As a state, we face the collective challenge of ensuring every Washingtonian receives a high-quality STEM education,” said Patrick.  “In today’s economy, and more importantly, tomorrow’s, STEM skills —the ability to design, solve complex problems and innovate — are the ticket to a lifetime of opportunity and success.”

Indeed, STEM jobs are growing three times faster than other jobs across the nation, and Washington ranks first in the nation in its concentration of STEM jobs. STEM industries, from aerospace to biotech and alternative energy, thrive in every region of the state.

Washington STEM takes on the challenge of preparing the next generation of students for the opportunities of tomorrow, igniting the imaginations and capacities of all Washington students, and closing the growing gap between the skills people have and the skills the economy demands.

“By partnering with diverse communities, entrepreneurial educators, and dedicated business leaders across the state, Washington STEM serves as a catalyst and convener,” explained Patrick. “We are discovering new ways to prepare and inspire young people in STEM subjects, with a real focus on improving outcomes for girls and all African-American, Latino, and Native American students.”

Washington STEM and its funded partners are actively engaged in three focus areas: Teaching and Learning, Out-of-School Learning, and Partnerships.

Regional STEM Networks play a key role in Washington STEM’s strategy. STEM Networks bring together business leaders, educators, and community members to advance STEM education and local economic development.

“It’s extraordinary to see the commitment in the first three communities we have partnered with —South King County, Yakima, and Spokane. So many people are coming forward to help shape the work,” Patrick said. “Our hope is that by helping regions define common goals, partner across sectors in new and different ways, and align resources, that these communities will serve as models for improving STEM education across our state and nation.”

For Patrick, Washington STEM and its partners are all working towards one ambitious goal: happy and healthy children contributing to a thriving society.

“We can’t afford to leave any talent off the table. Through STEM, we have an incredible opportunity to advance Washington’s innovative and growing STEM-driven economy.” Patrick said. “Everybody wins when we ensure that every child receives a high-quality STEM education. Our businesses will grow, our communities will prosper, and most importantly, our children—from every background–will lead lives of opportunity and joy.”

source: http://washingtonstem.org/blog/2012/09/12/2901/



Gates Foundation Offers Grants for MOOC’s in Introductory Classes

Hundreds of thousands of students worldwide are flocking to free online courses in topics like artificial intelligence and data analysis. But what about the student who’s struggling with basic algebra or English composition?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to find out whether the massive open online courses that have proved so popular in advanced and often highly technical fields offer the same promise for remedial and introductory courses.

On Tuesday the foundation is circulating to colleges and universities a request for proposals for MOOC’s that focus on the gateway courses that often trip up low-income and underprepared students. The foundation will award as many as 10 grants of up to $50,000 each for MOOC’s in  “high-enrollment, low-success introductory-level courses.”

“We are cautiously optimistic that MOOC’s might be able to improve outcomes for low-income students who are working toward credentials, but there are a lot of questions that we can’t yet answer,” says Josh Jarrett, the foundation’s deputy director for postsecondary success.

The foundation wants to know, for instance, which students benefit most from MOOC’s and which kinds of courses translate best to that format. It is also hoping to learn how educators can support students who are enrolled in online courses but who aren’t naturally self-directed learners.

“It’s important to collectively ask and answer these questions,” Mr. Jarrett says, “before we barrel too far ahead.”

Lawrence S. Bacow, a former president of Tufts University who serves as president in residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, welcomes the initiative.

“To date, most MOOC’s have been targeted at students in relatively advanced subjects,” he wrote in an e-mail. “A well developed MOOC that could be easily customized and adapted locally may be very attractive to many colleges and universities that are under great pressure to control rising instructional costs.”



source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/gates-foundation-offers-grants-for-moocs-in-introductory-classes/39792

Op-ed: We need to get more girls in STEM disciplines

MORE than two decades ago, when I moved from Beijing to Seattle to get my bachelor's degree at the University of Washington, I was one of only a handful of women in the electrical engineering program. At my first job as an engineer at Microsoft, I remember a time when I was the only woman on the second floor of Building 4 on the Microsoft campus, where more than 100 people worked.

Those numbers have changed for the better, and we have celebrated the promotion of high-profile women to chief-executive positions at tech companies, such as Hewlett-Packard's Meg Whitman and Yahoo's Marissa Mayer. But overall, the number of women remains less than stellar in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

As Washington state focuses on getting more students to study STEM disciplines to prepare them for future jobs, we need to pay special attention to getting girls into those fields so we can have a shot at correcting gender imbalance in technology careers. As someone who has lived and worked in two of the world's largest economies, I have seen distinct patterns.

In Asia, academic excellence is not only expected but perceived as cool. Many girls enjoy a strong start in STEM education in schools and universities, but are slowed down later in life by societal pressures to prioritize family over professional advancement.

Back home, in classrooms across the United States, that drop-off occurs much sooner and has a domino effect -- quite simply, fewer girls choose to study in disciplines where they are the minority.

Strong female role models, who can help young women discover their inner-geek cool, are important at this age. Those of us who have walked this path should mentor girls to show them the careers possible in the world of science and technology. Strong support by technology companies through scholarships and internships is also critical to building and sustaining momentum.

Getting girls to choose a STEM education is only half the problem; keeping them in the field is the other half. A technology career can be an isolating experience for a young woman. Strong female mentors and peer-group networks are hard to come by.

On my own journey to senior executive ranks within Microsoft, I have had to find internal champions who advocated for my growth in a way that accommodated my personal needs.

For example, I asked to be part of Microsoft's earliest pilots in reduced work schedules when my son was a baby. When he grew up, I negotiated a reassignment to China for two years to expose him to his cultural heritage.

A good starting point is to learn to ask for what you need personally in order to do a great job professionally. Not only does this bring down barriers for other women in the workplace but, more importantly, it helps build a knowledge base of successful ways to address these life scenarios.

As we look to change the conversation, and numbers, of women in technology, it is important to remember that long before employers ever interview women, you and I see them -- in our living rooms, classrooms, science-fair competitions, scholarship applications, workplace interns.

It's the girl who is a gadget fan but has never dreamed that she could build one herself. It's the college student who wants to declare a major in computer science at a small-town university but hesitates over being the only woman in a class.

By showing them what's possible, we can all work to change the equation, one girl at a time.

Julia Liuson is a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Developer Tools business. She has worked at Microsoft for 20 years.



source: http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2019118710_guestjulialiusonxml.html


CyberPatriot Designates Spokane School District "Center of Excellence"

The Air Force Association's CyberPatriot program has announced Spokane Public Schools of Washington state as its third CyberPatriot Center of Excellence.

CyberPatriot, the nation's largest and fastest growing high school cyber defense competition, is AFA's flagship science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program dedicated to strengthening cyber skills among American youth. Competitors also gain valuable knowledge from the expertise of CyberPatriot's many supporters, including the Northrop Grumman Foundation, CyberPatriot's presenting sponsor.

The Center of Excellence designation refers to districts and communities that provide leadership and support to further the educational experiences of their students through the CyberPatriot program. CyberPatriot established the Centers of Excellence program in 2011, and thus far, two other communities - the Los Angeles Unified School District and the city of San Antonio - have been recognized.

In the 2011-2012 school year, Spokane Public Schools registered 20 schools to participate in the CyberPatriot IV competition, which was powered by SAIC's CyberNEXS. Seven of the teams made their way to the National Finals Competition, held in the nation's capital. But Spokane did not just stop at registering teams; they facilitated a network of mentors, using an array of specialists to cover different topics of cybersecurity. Throughout the competition, some teams attended weekly (and sometimes biweekly) meetings, having mentors address different operating systems with the goal of giving their students the knowledge to build servers from the ground up.

"CyberPatriot's designation of Centers of Excellence recognizes communities and school districts that have raised the bar in their participation with this exciting national program," said Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot Commissioner. "These areas have made big efforts and strong initiatives to create the supportive environment to further their students' learning experiences. We realize that these communities have truly embraced the cyber competition concept, and we are pleased to be able to recognize them for their dedication."

To see more about CyberPatriot's Center of Excellence Certificates, go to http://www.uscyberpatriot.org/about/Pages/CentersofExcellence.aspx

source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cyberpatriot-designates-spokane-school-district-center-of-excellence-2012-09-05?siteid=nbkh



Mobius awarded STEM education grant
A Washington nonprofit organization announced $1.2 million in new grants to encourage better science, technology, engineering and math teaching.
The grants announced Wednesday by Washington STEM will help teachers in classrooms around the state. They range from money to help preschool kids learn about science and math at home, to bigger efforts to improve science and math teaching in the Tacoma, Renton, Highline and several smaller school districts.
A $9,500 grant awarded to Mobius Science Center in Spokane is targeted at bringing more women into the STEM fields.
“While women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs,” said Paul Queary, Washington STEM spokesman. “The Connect with STEM project aims to close the gender gap in STEM by targeting underlying issues including social and cultural stereotypes that deter girls’ participation in STEM.”
Mobius will collaborate with the Girl Scouts to pilot an out-of-school program for 50 middle-school girls.

Spokane Public Schools received a $20,300 grant and will work with Mobius to redesign the school day to involve more STEM projects. Student projects will be showcased at Mobius.


source: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/aug/16/mobius-awarded-stem-education-grant/ 


Microsoft offers free cloud-based Office software for schools
In a back-to-school move that could be the large company equivalent of distinguishing who has the cooler Trapper Keeper, Microsoft has released a free version of Office 365 for education, a cloud-based suite of tools that includes Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, as well as Exchange Online for eMail, SharePoint Online for collaborating, and more—rivaling Google’s education cloud.
Office 365, which Microsoft introduced last year, now is available free of charge to students, teachers, and faculty, the company said. Upgraded packages are available for a fee, including unlimited eMail storage, archiving, and hosted voice mail support.
With the announcement, Microsoft likely aims to strike a blow against Google, which has offered a similar suite of free online tools for schools. Google Apps for Education have been adopted statewide in Oregon, Iowa, and Colorado, among other states, as a means of enabling students and teachers to share documents and collaborate on projects online.
According to Anthony Salcito, vice president of education for Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector business, whom eSchool News interviewed during the 2012 International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego, Office 365 is building off of Live@edu as the “next evolution” to provide a better experience for communication, collaboration, and productivity.
“We’re combining the security and richness of Microsoft with what the cloud can do natively,” said Salcito in the interview. “The cloud and online learning are key trends and opportunities to transform education today, and as schools face shrinking budgets and the pressure to innovate, we’re offering enterprise-quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Live@edu, which also was free to schools, included access to Office Live Workspace, a service for storing and sharing documents online. Certain functionalities were tied to a browser plug-in called Silverlight, though, which reduced the portability of the service when compared to other providers.
To access Live@edu workspaces directly from Office applications, users had to install an Office Live Update. Files couldn’t be edited from within a workspace, but clicking on “edit” would open them up in Microsoft Office.
In comparison, Office 365 offers a more robust computing experience, Salcito said. Giving students access to many Office-grade tools free of charge will allow them to use the tools so many companies use today, he said—providing them a “leg up” in the job market.
“Students must be more than consumers. They need to be creators. They need to know how to communicate and collaborate with others,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Office 365 is … used all over the world, and companies are demanding expertise in [these tools]. And [now] there is no compromise for going to the cloud with Microsoft. The experience and features that you expect on the desktop and offline are also there in the cloud. Schools can connect all devices to the cloud, and every student and teacher regardless of location, to realize the potential of online learning.”
It’s not just students whom Microsoft hopes to target with its latest release. Teachers also will be able to take advantage of different collaborative tools that can help with curriculum enhancement, the company says.
According to Salcito, teachers can create curriculum, record lectures, and publish them to online class sites in the cloud, where students are able to view, open, produce, edit, and share their work.
“Office 365 provides new ways to extend classroom teaching time. … Students can engage in ad-hoc instant messaging or video chats to collaborate on class projects in real time, regardless of where they’re working or on what device,” said Salcito. “They can create documents with Office Web Apps, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.”
And schools can save on IT administration costs, says Microsoft, by counting on the company to manage routine tasks such as applying server updates and software upgrades. The demands on school data centers will decrease, and with 25GB mailboxes, users won’t be forced to purge files.
“After extensive research, we chose Office 365 for education because it allows us to leverage the benefits of cloud-based services while readily meeting our security and accessibility requirements for eMail and calendar support,” said Ted Dodds, chief information officer for Cornell University. “The shift to the cloud allows us to focus more directly on our core missions related to education, research, and outreach.”
The feature Salcito says he’s most excited about is Lync Online, which will enable teachers to create personalized learning experiences. Already, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the National University of Ireland, Galway are using Office 365 to create virtual teams and prepare students to be more effective in the business world.



Senator Cantwell Emphasizes STEM Skills Shortage During Aviation Hearing
During a recent Senate Aviation Subcommittee hearing, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) emphasized the need to encourage more American students to pursue aviation careers in order to meet workforce needs and maintain the global leadership of the U.S. aviation industry.
According to Boeing, 21,000 new aerospace workers will be needed in Washington state alone over the next decade, but not nearly enough American students are studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to learn the skills needed for these careers. The National Science Board reports that 33 percent of all STEM doctoral students in U.S. universities are foreign students on temporary visas, and 57 percent of U.S. post-doctoral fellows in STEM fields hold temporary visas.
“We’re graduating about 70,000 engineers a year, but only 44,000 of those are eligible for aerospace careers due to security issues,” Cantwell said during the July 18 hearing. “So how do we get more STEM educated engineers in aerospace?”
“Clearly we need more capacity and more research going on at the graduate level and at the bachelor’s degree level,” responded Dr. John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, Operations and Technology, The Boeing Company. “But the problem really starts at the elementary school level, where even in terms of just the public image that scientists and engineers have through the popular media affects young people’s choices. … But there are programs out there and our industry is working as a whole to try and change this. There are programs like First Robotics where we get junior high and high school kids into robotics competitions that have the feel of a high school football game that gets their interest going.”
Dr. Tracy continued, “We’re investing alone $25 million dollars a year in the external community trying to get these young people excited. So I do have hope, but it does require a systems solution where all of us are working as individuals talking to young people next door, from historically underrepresented communities in aerospace to the top-level public policy decisions and programs. It takes all of those working together.”
As Chair of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Cantwell has repeatedly called for Congress to increase support for apprenticeship programs, STEM education, industry-academic partnerships, and aerospace skills training programs to produce a 21st century-skilled aerospace workforce. More details about the July 18 hearing are available here.



source: http://www.trianglecoalition.org/bulletin/august-6-2012#legis

Bill Gates: Why ‘game-based learning’ is the future of education

In Bill Gates’ vision of the classrooms of the future, students are grouped according to skill set. One cluster huddles around a computer terminal, playing an educational game or working on a simulator. Another works with a human teacher getting direct instruction, while another gets a digital lesson delivered from their teacher’s avatar.

This kind of “game-based” learning is one of the priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Microsoft creator.

Last year, the foundation announced it would invest $20 million in a variety of teacher tools, including this and other technologies geared toward changing the way teachers teach and kids learn.

Gates sat down with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week while he was in Atlanta speaking at the Education Commission of the States’ national forum.

The billionaire philanthropist said there are lessons to be learned from the enthusiasm kids have when playing video games, including that winning can be a motivator and that students should be able to move to the next level when ready.

“We’re not saying the whole curriculum turns into this big game. We’re saying it’s an adjunct to a serious curriculum,” he said.

The introduction of the new Common Core standards initiative, a set of consistent standards that have been adopted by Georgia and 44 other states, provides an opportunity to spur the creation of these games. Enter the Gates Foundation.

Two years ago, the nonprofit brought together 20 of the country’s best assessment designers with 20 of the world’s best game designers to discuss creating games that engage kids more deeply, said Vicki Phillips, director of the college ready strategy for the Gates Foundation.

Now, the foundation is working with the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington on a free, online game called Refraction. The goal of the game is to rescue animals whose ships are stuck in outer space. The ships require different amounts of fuel, powered by lasers. So the players have to manipulate fractions to split the lasers into the right amount of fuel.

“Imagine if kids poured their time and passion into a video game that taught them math concepts while they barely noticed, because it was so enjoyable,” Gates said during his speech at the ECS national forum.

As students play, their progress is visible to the teacher on his or her computer, allowing the educator to see instantly what concepts students understand.

“Teachers no longer have to wait for the unit test to find out if they’re kids understand the material,” Gates said. “Teachers have not had these tools before. Fragmented standards that differ from state to state and district to district have made it hard for innovators to design tools to reach a wide market. The Common Core will help change that.”

The foundation’s idea is that in coming years, there could be a digital mall full of low-cost or free online games teachers could download to use with the entire class or individual students.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is make more robust the array of things teachers have access to at their fingertips that are aligned to standards, that are high quality, that engage kids though technology and let [teachers] be the orchestra leader, ” Phillips said.

It’s early in the development phase, and the foundation is still trying to figure out how to do this game-based technology well, Gates said.

The foundation will play a role in researching and developing this new technology, work that isn’t likely to be done at the federal or state level.

“It’s definitely going to make a contribution, ” Gates said. “Motivation is such a huge part in what ends up differentiating student outcomes. Everyone has the ability to do fantastic work at a high school level. It’s just, without the right teacher and the right motivation, you don’t always get there.”

The Gates Foundation has given Georgia at least $500,000 to help teachers meet the standards of the Common Core and is continuing its other work, mainly around the construction of a new teacher evaluation system.

Gates said states are now doing the “hard work” of implementing new evaluation systems, and in some cases they are not providing enough resources to ensure the new systems are properly introduced. That includes retaining important elements such as student feedback and peer evaluators.

“We’re trying to encourage the states to put the resources in, even if it is a few percent of the payroll,” he said. “If you’re going to do it, it deserves to be done well.”

source: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/07/17/bill-gates-why-game-based-learning-is-the-future-of-education/



UW will offer three kinds of Courera courses next year, with one credit-bearing option  
The University of Washington (UW), unlike the 11 other universities that pledged this month to host classes in Coursera’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, will offer credit to anyone who completes the open course. That, however, won’t be free.
UW officials, since the school’s Coursera partnership was announced July 17, have touted the university’s decision to offer course credit, while other schools will give certificates to people who complete their Cousera classes.
New details have emerged about UW’s Coursera classes, outlining three options for anyone with an internet connection and a desire to learn. There will be free courses, certificate courses, and “enhanced” courses led by instructors. The last option will likely be offered at the same rate as other UW online classes, about $350 added onto tuition costs.
UW’s credit-bearing Coursera offerings – expected to be available during the 2012-13 academic year — will include applied mathematics program in scientific computing computer science courses, some focusing on programming. UW currently offers 17 online graduate master’s degrees online, along with 38 online certificate programs in a laundry list of career fields.
But before the school’s Coursera course selections are mistaken for free college classes, UW administrators want online learners to know that taking the credit-bearing classes does not lead to admittance.
David Szatmary, vice provost of UW’s educational outreach, said UW is making its course content available for credit on Coursera because campus decision makers and professors are comfortable with the shift toward web-based learning, and don’t see MOOCs as a usurper of higher education’s status quo.
“If an anxiety exists, it’s because it’s new and it’s untested and all of the elements and possibilities haven’t come out yet,” Szatmary said of Courera and similar MOOC sites, like edX and the Khan Academy. “It’s just anxiety over something that’s new and unfamiliar. And as these MOOCs go forward, I think they will be part of the higher education landscape, but it’s not going to replace undergraduate education or a master’s degree education.”
Having more than one option for Cousera classes, Szatmary said, would broaden UW’s online audience.
“It was a question of how do we work with Coursera to create something that that student will really want,” he said. “Of the many people who take these kind of courses, most will want the free course experience, and some people will want more focused information in these courses.”
Coursera, a for-profit educational technology company launched by two former Stanford University computer science professors, has 43 college courses to more than 680,000 people worldwide. The site could have more than 100 classes by January, according to a company announcement.
Tony Bates, an eLearning consultant who has tracked the rise of MOOCs, said the role of free courses in higher education is murky at best.
He pointed to MOOCs’ 10 percent course completion rate, and said it isn’t clear what percentage of online learners can pass a class’s final exam without studying any of the course curriculum.
Until more is known about the effectiveness of MOOC-based learning, colleges and universities are unlikely to follow UW’s approach.

“This is not to deny the value of MOOCs, particularly in putting pressure on existing institutions to change, but there is much room for improvement,” Bates wrote in a blog post. “We need to look at how we can benefit from both more conventional online learning and from MOOCss, not set one off against the other.” 


source: http://www.ecampusnews.com/curriculum/free-online-courses-for-college-credit-sort-of/2/

 Leaders from all sectors commit to state goals for STEM 

Almost 150 business, education and community leaders from across Washington state and the nation have announced a set of commitments to ensure all students have a high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to increase and diversify the STEM pipeline necessary for a healthy economy.


Leaders from businesses including The Boeing Co., McKinstry, Lockheed Martin Corp., Avista and Microsoft worked with education leaders from the University of Washington, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Education Association, Snoqualmie Tribes and other organizations at the Aerospace Industries Association / National Defense Industrial Association / Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition’s meeting to develop the following STEM Takes Flight 2012 Commitments:

Achieving A Common Vision: Create an awareness campaign around STEM and develop an asset map of STEM programs in state.


Preparing The Future Workforce: Support coupling of K-12 STEM education with financial investments from industry to expand student enrollment in post-secondary degrees.


Reaching A Broader Audience: Building on Washington STEM’s communications and community engagement work, develop a plan to further engage parents, business and educators.


Starting a STEM Network: (1) Share STEM Network model and case studies with community; (2) Remove access to barriers; (3) Leverage relationships and funding; (4) Connect community and develop start-ups; and (5) Formalize the network.


Advancing Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards: Convene stakeholders to develop shared implementation plan and develop and share audience-specific messages.


Washington STEM — Statewide Convener: Working with the growing network, Washington STEM will: (1) Develop and share common messaging & outcomes; (2) Mobilize parents, students, teachers, business and industry; and (3) Reconvene next year to assess and increase impact.


“The number and diversity of organizations represented at this gathering clearly shows our state’s dedication to ensuring student success in STEM,” said Dean Allen, CEO of McKinstry and chair of Washington STEM’s board of directors. “STEM education will help drive Washington’s economy, and the business and education leaders represented here are committed to supporting students so they can be successful in this changing workplace.”

Washington STEM in partnership with Boeing, the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association hosted the two-day STEM Workforce Division meeting at Boeing’s state-of-the art Customer Experience Center in Renton. The STEM Workforce Division meeting provides a statewide forum to share best practices, coalesce STEM education activity and make commitments to drive greater impact for students, communities and the state.

Highlighting the importance of the issue, gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Attorney General Rob McKenna spoke to the attendees to discuss how STEM fields drive the economy of Washington state and what kinds of education policies and practices are needed to reflect and support that growth.

“I’m very appreciative of the crucial work that Washington STEM and its business partners are achieving in our state, helping set us on the path to greater academic and economic success for all of Washington’s students,” Inslee said. “Our P-12 system must better equip our children to be the innovators and inventors of tomorrow, and our universities and colleges must prepare students with the STEM skills and knowledge our employers so desperately need. That’s why I’m committed to making innovation and STEM education a bigger priority in our school system. The status quo is no longer adequate to ensure our workforce and our children will be competitive in the 21st Century Innovation Economy.”

“Expanding STEM opportunities around the entire state is central to our economic future,” McKenna said. “Programs such as Delta High School in the Tri-Cities, Aviation High School in Burien, and TAF Academy in Federal Way are shining examples of how to prepare students for their future; the challenge is in creating more STEM opportunities for our students. A quality STEM education not only teaches the abilities required of a skilled labor force, but also produces the types of thinkers and workers who can lead future innovations and technological advances within their respective fields. That’s the kind of education every child deserves and needs.”

The STEM Takes Flight 2012 Commitments were developed over two days by participants in workshops that tackled topics such as Preparing the Future Workforce — Joining Business and Educators to Reimagine STEM Education; Building a STEM Foundation: Advancing Common Core State Standards; Next Generation Science Standards and more.

“STEM isn’t just for scientists and engineers,” said Caroline King, Chief Operating Officer of Washington STEM. “STEM education builds creativity and critical thinking skills that are necessary for all kinds of jobs across our state. It will take all of us — businesses, elected officials, educators, parents, students and community organizations — working together to ensure all students are prepared for the future.”

source: http://kpbj.com/business_daily/2012-07-16/leaders_from_all_sectors_commit_to_state_goals_for_stem_education

King's Schools to Celebrate Start of Construction of STEM Building June 11

King’s Schools, part of the CRISTA family of ministries, will celebrate the start of construction on a 27,000-plus square foot building dedicated to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) on June 11, 2012.  A 15-month construction phase will begin one week later (June 18) and conclude in time for the state-of-the-art “STEM Center” to open to King’s students in September 2013.


On June 11, all current King’s students and faculty will join donors, project vendors, CRISTA Senior Living residents, CRISTA Ministries staff and other assembled guests for a public celebration at 1 p.m. in Woolsey Stadium, located on the 56-acre CRISTA Ministries campus (19303 Fremont Ave. North in Shoreline, Wash.).  The 15 classrooms within the building will be the new home to as many as 27 different high school and junior high courses within the STEM fields. Local project partners include Mahlum Architects (design) and Kirtley Cole Associates, LLC (construction).  

“On behalf of King’s Schools, it is with great excitement and anticipation that we begin construction of the STEM Center,” said Eric Rasmussen, superintendent of King’s Schools.  “This building, made possible by the generosity of our donors, will inspire innovation and excellence in King’s students for generations to come.”

Added Bob Lonac, president & CEO of CRISTA Ministries: “This is a historic day for CRISTA Ministries and our King’s Schools ministry.  The incredible teachers and students that comprise the school will be well equipped to accomplish even greater achievements when the STEM Center opens its doors.”

Studies have shown that the United States now lags behind other nations in STEM education at the elementary and secondary levels.  A 2010 executive report by President Obama’s Council of Advisors included the following: “to meet our needs for a STEM-capable citizenry, a STEM-proficient workforce, and future STEM experts, the Nation must focus on two complimentary goals: We must equip all students to be proficient in STEM subjects.  And we must inspire students to learn STEM, and in the process, motivate many of them to pursue STEM careers.”


Established in 1950 as part of CRISTA, the mission of King’s Schools is to inspire hearts and equip minds for students ranging from preschool to 12th grade. 


source: http://shoreline.patch.com/articles/king-s-schools-to-celebrate-start-of-construction-of-stem-building-june-11 

STEM Grant to Benefit Highline Students

Students in Highline will have better opportunities to be prepared for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), thanks to an initiative announced today.

The non-profit Washington STEM has announced a grant of $270,000 to launch the South King County STEM Network. This newly formed network of school districts, businesses, higher education, workforce development, research institutes, and public/private organizations will work collaboratively to improve STEM education for students in the region.

The South King County STEM Network includes seven districts in the region: Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, South Seattle and Tukwila.

Washington STEM is investing in three STEM Networks across Washington, which will support communities to revitalize STEM education and drive local economic development.

The South King County STEM Network’s lead agency is Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD).

“We are very excited to lead this effort on behalf of the Network, which will increase opportunities for students to pursue STEM education and careers,” says John Welch, incoming PSESD Superintendent and Chair of the Network’s Leadership Team. “This partnership will help close the opportunity gap and meet real education and workforce needs in our region.”

source: http://www.highlinetimes.com/2012/05/02/news/stem-grant-benefit-highline-students



Spokane STEM Network wins grant to coordinate programs

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane schools and businesses are working together to steer students toward math- and science-related careers. In fact, there is so much going on that it can be hard to keep track of it all.

A new grant will help with that.
Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing equity, excellence and innovation in STEM education, is giving $220,000 to launch the Spokane STEM Network. The grant will help the group coordinate programs in Spokane County to revitalize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in alignment with local economic development.

Washington STEM forecasts robust job growth in areas that require science and technology skills in Spokane County during the next several years. The test for local school districts and universities will be to provide enough qualified candidates to fill vacant jobs.
"Inspiring and preparing K-20 students to pursue challenging careers in the STEM fields is critical for our community,” said Washington State University Spokane Chancellor Brian Pitcher, who is on the Spokane STEM Network leadership team. "Our economy relies on citizen workers who learn, innovate, discover and create.
"Spokane as a community is ready to align its education, business and nonprofit assets, expanding regional capacity for local students to be competitive,” he said.
The Spokane STEM Network is one of three to launch this month with support from Washington STEM. The others are based in south central Washington and south King County.
"Too often we hang the banner of student success solely on our schools’ shoulders,” said Carolyn Landel, chief program officer at Washington STEM. "These STEM network investments will rally entire communities around a common vision for student success aligned with local economic opportunities.”

Two examples of Spokane programs already under way or ready to go
Mead School District is building its Riverpoint Academy in the Innovate Washington building on the WSU Riverpoint Campus. The program is preparing to open in fall 2012. The school takes a problem-solving approach to help qualified high school students build their academic and leadership skills, especially in science and technology.

"The students are thinking about their next steps, whether they are going directly into the workforce or on to college,” said Lisa Shaffer, a member of the academy’s advisory board. She’s also a mother with three children in the Mead School District and chief scientific officer for molecular diagnostics for PerkinElmer’s Signature Genomic Laboratories.
"It is our job as business owners, educators and parents to prepare our students the best that we can,” she said. "STEM education will give them the background that they need even if they do not choose a STEM career path.”
One STEM program already under way is taught in 14 Spokane area high schools. Project Lead The Way, a national nonprofit, provides curricula in biomedicine and engineering, though nearly all of the Spokane schools have adopted only the biomedical track for now. WSU Spokane trains the high school teachers.
Among the participants is Rogers High School.  It partnered with Jubilant HollisterStier, which made a gift to WSU Spokane so Rogers could outfit a laboratory with scientific equipment.
"Science, technology, engineering and math education and initiatives drive required skill sets for many Jubilant HollisterStier positions,” said company CEO Marcelo Morales. "Having access to local candidates with these skills is critical to our long-term success.
"Jubilant HollisterStier is fortunate to be able to partner with STEM-based education initiatives, give back to our community and, subsequently, benefit our organization with the expectation of hiring future skilled employees from our own back yard,” he said.



$196,000 STEM grant to help ESD 105 schools


YAKIMA, Wash. -- Schools in the Education Service District 105 have gotten a $196,000 boost from a state STEM grant.

Washington STEM is a statewide, nonprofit program geared to put enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs into schools.

The grant will be used to assess and map science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programs in schools in the service district, which covers much of south-central Washington. The grant will also provide surveys in communities to assess needs and goals in the STEM network and outline plans for expanding programs.

Toppenish High School's robotics program is one example of STEM.


source: http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2012/05/02/196-000-stem-grant-to-help-esd-105-schools



STEM education is key to growing Washington’s economy


Two new jobs reports show that Washington’s economic recovery is accelerating and that lawmakers are smart to invest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

One new report, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows Seattle had the eighth best job growth among the top 100 metro areas in the nation over the past 12 months – posting a healthy gain of 39,100 jobs. 

More good news comes from the Forbes/Praxis Strategy Group studyand the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ). They’re reporting that Seattle not only led the nation in high-tech and STEM job growth over the past decade, the Emerald City is still reaping the benefits of strong growth in high-tech and STEM jobs.

The Forbes study reported in the PSBJ shows that Seattle beat out rivals such as Silicon Valley to become the best city in the nation for high-tech jobs over the past decade, with a whopping 43 percent increase in high-tech employment and an 18 percent increase in STEM jobs. The study also showed Seattle’s leadership in high-tech jobs has held firm during the past couple of years. In fact, the study says, “the Seattle metro area has posted 12% tech job growth over the past two years and 7.6% STEM growth, handily beating the performance of Silicon Valley.”

And the good news in high-tech employment continues. The PSBJ points out “Forbes' findings seem to be backed up by recent announcements that Amazon is hiring 1,000 new tech workers in Seattle and that other big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, are expanding offices in the area.”

These numbers show we’re on the right path, but we can’t let up on the gas pedal just yet. Lawmakers like Rep. Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) continue to push for additional investments in STEM education. In the December special session, Rep. Maxwell sponsored bills that created competitive STEM grant programs and added STEM knowledge to the Professional Educators Standards Board certification process. Both bills received bi-partisan support before being signed into law.


source: http://hdcadvance.blogspot.com/2012/05/stem-education-is-key-to-growing.html

As economy recovers, what state must do to improve

Nearly five years after the start of the Great Recession, we are finally seeing the job market starting to recover. Private sector employers are cautiously adding jobs, and the technology and manufacturing sectors in particular continue to show strength. After several years of free-fall, state revenue projections are holding steady and demand for state services is actually lower than previously expected. These early signs of recovery are accompanied by predictions that Washington's economy and job outlook should improve faster than in many other states.

But it's certainly not time to pop the champagne. Economists have warned that job growth will come slowly, and so far they've been right. Neither consumers nor businesses have recaptured their pre-recession sense of optimism, nor should we expect them to anytime soon. 


As our state takes its first tenuous steps toward economic recovery, now is an especially good time to thoughtfully consider the actions we should take to build a better Washington.

A year ago the Washington Roundtable -- a group of senior business executives from across the state -- began asking some important questions: What does a better Washington look like? What do we have to do to create it? How do we measure progress?

Our answer: A better Washington is marked by high quality of life -- a state that boasts great schools, provides a safe and efficient transportation system, encourages innovation and offers excellent job opportunities. A better Washington is also a state where employers can grow and compete in the global economy.

The last five years have clearly demonstrated that Washington can't take its economic or community vitality for granted. Instead, we must develop and embrace a common vision for our future. Without this clear understanding of where we're going, good jobs won't come back, too many kids won't get the education they deserve, and long overdue investments in infrastructure won't be realized. 

That's why the Roundtable introduced a set of 12 measures -- the "Benchmarks for a Better Washington" -- to help define and track our progress in making Washington a top 10 state for quality of life and innovation, while simultaneously ensuring it is not one of the most expensive for business. The yin and yang of that vision is significant: Quality and cost are equally important.

Quality of life indicators identified include private sector job growth, patents issued, high school graduation rates, student performance in math and science, bachelor's degrees awarded, road and bridge quality, and commute times. Washington should strive to become a top 10 state in every category.

The indicators on the business cost side of the coin include electrical rates, business tax burden, unemployment insurance costs and workers' compensation. In these areas, Washington should strive to ensure it is not among the most expensive states in any category.

Those of us who live and work here know Washington boasts many advantages. Our electric rates are the lowest in the nation. Our state is a leader in patent generation (ranking fifth nationally) and private sector job growth (ranking eighth). Our innovation-driven economy continues to produce results.

Although our state still ranks among the 10 states with the highest unemployment insurance rates and most expensive workers' compensation benefits, reforms enacted in 2011 should improve our position in both categories over the next couple years.

But our rankings in other important areas remain disappointing or have slipped relative to other states over the past year. 

Most notably, Washington's education system does not yet compare well against other states. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Washington's 2009 high school graduation rate was 73.7 percent, ranking 37th nationally. The more important number: 22,000 students in that class did not make it to graduation. 

In 2011, 40 percent of Washington's 8th graders scored at or above proficient on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the "nation's report card"), ranking Washington in a four-way tie for 12th.

There is also cause for concern in higher education. Despite having one of the most innovation-dependent economies in the nation, our state remains 38th in bachelor's degrees awarded per capita. It's estimated that in six years at least 67 percent of new family wage jobs in Washington will require postsecondary education. But less than a third of young adults, ages 25-34, hold a bachelor's degree. Our students will need better preparation and more access to postsecondary education in order to take advantage of good job opportunities. 

The business community is committed to pursuing this vision for a better Washington by supporting sound public policies and making strategic investments.

We actively supported legislation this year to improve our state's K-12 educator evaluation system. Thanks to hard work by lawmakers from both parties, Washington now has a better system to ensure that the most effective educators are in our classrooms and those struggling get the support they need to improve. 

We also have worked closely with educators, parents and community leaders to develop A+ Washington, a comprehensive plan to transform public education in our state. This plan takes bold ideas -- great teachers for every student, support and flexibility for teachers, new tools to hold schools accountable for results, and expanded opportunities for all students -- and translates them into clear action steps.

Businesses are putting their money where their mouths are by funding Washington STEM, a nonprofit organization to drive improvements in student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math. Washington STEM has already committed more than $2 million in grants, reaching more than 500 teachers and 16,000 students statewide. 

Employers also are investing in higher education. Shrinking state support has driven Washington's public colleges and universities to raise tuition significantly in recent years. To help mitigate the impact on students, we supported development of a new endowment to provide more financial aid for students from low- and middle-income families. Microsoft and Boeing committed a combined $50 million to the endowment and the goal is to raise $1 billion by 2020.

Results are already being seen. This month some 3,000 students across the state will be notified that they will receive Washington State Opportunity Scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year. 

Beyond education, local businesses are actively engaged in efforts to help the state improve its roads and bridges and reduce commute times. Business representatives played an active role in Gov. Chris Gregoire's "Connecting Washington" task force and we are leading a coalition focused on securing new, long-term investment in our statewide transportation system. 

The benchmarks represent the business community's thinking on a balanced agenda to help move our state forward. We've laid out some goals and we remain committed to making them a reality. We recognize others have good ideas to bring to the table as well. Our hope is that a clear vision for our state's future will spark collaborative efforts to build the better Washington we all want. 

We are not there yet. More hard work is needed to catch up, keep up and move ahead. If Washington can achieve these goals, it will not only lead the nation out of recession, but also emerge as a state with expanded opportunity for all its citizens. The ball is in our court.


source: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20120506/OPINION03/705069976


Washington senator shows support for STEM education

During a recent visit to Delta High School in Richland, Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell expressed her support for STEM education in the state and across the country, according to the Bellingham Herald.

Delta High is a public-private partnership that allows students from surrounding towns to attend and focus on STEM education. Cantwell said she wants to use the school as an example for legislation she’s writing in support of STEM education.

“I’m here to look how this program has been successful and how to scale it to a national level,” she said, according to the newspaper.

During her visit, Cantwell listened to suggestions and input from superintendents, university administrators and scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory involved in the school.

Many middle and high schools across the nation are embracing STEM education and robotics curriculum. In California, Chevron andProject Lead the Way recently announced they have awarded five Bakersfield Schools grants worth a total of $118,000 to promote STEM education. The grants were given out as part of National Engineers Week.

source: http://www.vexrobotics.com/news/2011/02/washington-senator-shows-support-for-stem-education/

The Master's Bump

The Legislature is facing the greatest revenue crisis in generations. Somebody in Olympia ought to be talking about $330 million that gets spent every year for no apparent purpose and with no apparent results.

That, according to a Seattle-based think tank, is how much the state spends on the “master’s bump” – the roughly $11,000 a year extra it pays more than half of Washington’s teachers because they’ve earned master’s degrees.

Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Bill Gates both singled out the master’s bump as an example of waste in public education. We hope they caught somebody’s attention in Olympia.

In theory, the additional degree would translate into better performance in the classroom. But there’s no evidence that it actually does. Multiple national studies have found that the additional pay, on average, buys little improvement in the quality of education.

The exceptions, according to a 2009 report from the Gates-funded Center on Reinventing Public Education, are master’s degrees in science and math. But something like 90 percent of teachers’ master’s degrees are earned in education courses, which are often lacking in focus and rigor.

Like seniority pay, a master’s credential from an undemanding program becomes another way for a teacher to earn more money without necessarily becoming a better teacher.

It gets worse. The state of Washington turns out to be exceptionally enthusiastic about the master’s bump. The Center on Reinventing Public Education, after crunching numbers from all over the country, found that this state pays the highest bump in the entire nation.

Based on 2008 numbers, the center concluded that Washington diverted 3.3 percent of all federal, state and local education money to the bump. Only a couple other states, Nebraska and Georgia, break 3 percent.

It gets even worse. The master’s bump is another example of this state’s perverse tendency to keep highly trained science and math teachers out of its classrooms.

Although graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math – STEM – tend to be rigorous and useful, they’re worth no more to teachers than other graduate degrees. A teacher who invests in a STEM degree often becomes valuable to potential private employers. With no special incentives, they have less reason to hang around in the public schools.

This is true of less-educated math and science teachers, as well. The unintended consequence of their early departure: Washington winds up paying STEM teachers – who tend to have less seniority – less than it does other teachers.

It probably can’t happen in a hurry, but Washington ought to be spending less on automatic bumps and more on rewards for the most successful and scarce teachers. And $330 million a year could go a very long way toward putting the incentives where they belong.