Thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Penn College is launching a STEM outreach program that will engage rural schools. The program is intended to show educators, students, and parents the realities, demands, and opportunities of a technologically sophisticated workforce. Penn K-12 STEM Outreach.
The funds were given in the form of a $314,440 PAsmart Advancing K-12 Computer Science & STEM Education grant.
“We are extremely grateful for this grant, which will enhance our efforts to connect with students and their key career influencers regarding the abundant, rewarding possibilities that await in STEM,” said Tanya Berfield, director of K-12 outreach at Penn College. “Studies show that the middle school years are formative in terms of students’ career development. It’s vital that STEM occupations are considered, as students lay the groundwork for courses they will pursue in high school.”
According to a state government task force, over 70 percent of new jobs in the next decade will require science, technology, engineering, and math skills. Likewise, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that STEM occupations will grow more than double the rate of all other professions by 2029. The Bureau also states that the median annual salary for STEM occupations was $95,420 in May 2021, compared to $40,120 for non-STEM jobs.
Penn College’s project will give middle school teachers externships. Exposing them to manufacturing and construction fields, the new K-12 Science Standards, and help to create 3D learning activities.
College faculty and staff – with assistance from industry representatives – will lead the externships. Upon completion, participants will receive a mobile lab kit to encourage student engagement activities at their home school. Students’ eventual hands-on experiences will culminate in an annual showcase where they can demonstrate new STEM skills for industry and education partners.
Materials also will be shared with parents to increase their awareness of STEM career opportunities.
The initiative is available to 43 middle schools in: Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, and Union. Up to two educators from each school will be invited to participate in the externships.
“We are hopeful that many educators will take advantage of this opportunity,” Berfield said. “The lasting benefits for their students could be priceless.”
Source: Penn K-12 STEM Outreach