By handing out statewide educational grants to schools from pre-K to universities, and by devising ways to provide students and educators the needed interactions with STEM professionals, Washington STEM believes faculty can gain key tools to improve learning.
The STEM program focuses its grants on specific demographics and locations throughout the state. In the health-care-heavy Spokane area, programs revolve around hospitals, while projects in central Washington show how technology improves agriculture. This diversity allows STEM a customized presence across the state. "The problems are similar, but the solutions are different," says Allen.
The grants also help teachers understand STEM training. A recent STEM grantee, the Nooksack Valley School District, will use its funding to demonstrate best practices, which will lead to new types of instruction and likely updated curriculum, says Cindy Stockwell, assistant superintendent.
With professionals in the forefront, students also gain benefits from the clout that corporate participants have with state officials. "We have local employers pounding the drum on STEM to create economic opportunities," Allen says. "Now we have the political machinery saying this is our idea."
Meanwhile, Allen says McKinstry soon may borrow the Washington model for a similar STEM initiative in neighboring Oregon, starting in its Portland office. "What I would expect to happen is [that] we start to bend the curve on these school systems," Allen says. "I hope over the next five to 10 years, we see more students succeeding in math and science and more local kids graduating with engineering and related degrees who we can hire."
|Arizona STEM Network|
|California STEM Learning Network|
|Colorado Experiential STEM Learning Network|
|I-STEM Education (Idaho)|
|Advance KY (Kentucky)|
|Michigan STEM Partnership|
|Empire State STEM Learning Network (New York)|
|NC STEM Learning Network (North Carolina)|
|New Mexico STEM Network|
|Ohio STEM Learning Network|
|Oregon STEM Education Initiative|
|Tennessee STEM Innovation Network|