Question: How do you grow a new STEM Hub to over 5 times its embryonic size in just 7 weeks?
Answer: You have help from a Mentor Hub and use the exponential power of “paying it forward” with every new introduction.
The Western New York region of 5 counties, bounded by such landmarks as Niagara Falls, Lake Erie and Allegany State Park, recently became the last region to plug into the Empire State STEM Learning Network. We began our establishment with stewardship from the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (COE). The COE hosted our first meeting on November 21, 2013 with a Founders Steering Committee of approximately 20 members.
Since that Founding Meeting, we have: grown our Steering Committee to over 80 members, established a Board of Champions of over 20 members, charged five Ad Hoc Groups to initiate tasks essential to developing our infrastructure, initiated an online Moodle Learning Site, adopted working Mission/Vision Statements and began our Strategic Planning. On January 9, 2014, 56 of our new members participated in the first joint Steering Committee-Board of Champions Meeting to network and discuss our opportunities for future action.
On hand at that January meeting were Sara Silverstone, Director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, and Phil Ortiz, Coordinator of the Empire State STEM Learning Network. Sara has been an invaluable Mentor in supporting our first steps by providing guidance and allowing the WNY Hub to use resources, such as the Finger Lakes Hub Mission/Vision which became a model for our work in WNY. The successes of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub will continue to serve as examples and an inspiration for WNY. Phil’s support of our evolving Hub in WNY has been another catalyst for our growth by encouraging the Mentor Hub relationship, linking us to other Hubs in New York State and assuring the ongoing interest of SUNY.
With a membership of over 100 and growing, we feel that our opportunities are endless and anything may be possible. The possibility for “collective impact” for STEM learning in WNY is strong. We believe that interest in STEM and in our Hub’s work will continue to grow. We challenge our members to remember that networked organizations thrive when each new introduction is “paid forward” by introducing others to STEM learning and to the Hub.
We want to thank Sara Silverstone and the Finger Lakes STEM Hub for guiding us in our work. The WNY STEM Hub looks forward to collaborating and growing together with our Mentor Hub to the East of us!
Guest Blog written by: Michelle Kavanaugh, Ed.D., Facilitator
WNY STEM Hub of the Empire State STEM Learning Network