Recognizing STEM Exemplars

Join us for a new blog series as we celebrate the programs recognized by the Student Impact Team of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

Each finalist brought a display to highlight their program.

Each finalist brought a display to highlight their program.

This team was formed when student impact was identified as one of the top 3 priorities by the Hub’s Steering Committee.  Our team set out to identify and promote STEM activities and events in the Finger Lakes region that are engaging, exciting, and empowering for students. We created a S.M.A.R.T. Goal that we would “identify and recognize a minimum of 5 exemplary STEM initiatives in the region by September, 2014.”

In fall of 2013, an Action Team was formed to make this Goal a reality. A small group of dedicated people came together to analyze the tasks that we felt were necessary to accomplish. We decided that we would solicit applications from various STEM initiatives and then compare them with a rubric. One of the first challenges we faced was identifying what makes a STEM initiative “exemplary.” Each member conducted research regarding existing rubrics for STEM programs. We shared, met, discussed, and word-smithed the rubrics until we developed one that we felt represented our group’s vision. In addition, our group felt that a STEM initiative could not adequately be evaluated with a rubric based upon a paper application alone. We knew we needed to visit each of the finalist programs. For our first year, we decided to limit the scope of our goal to  programs that happen during the summer only.

After soliciting applications and determining finalists, we set off into the field to visit each of the STEM programs. What a treat that was! Each program had different strengths. Collectively, however, they represented a broad range of STEM programming happening in the Finger Lakes area.

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Teachers at the STANYS Conference browsing the displays

The Five Exemplary Summer STEM initiatives were recognized on November 1st, 2014 at a Science Teacher of New York State (STANYS) conference evening event held at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Each Finalist was represented at the event and provided information about what is offered, how the program runs, how it is funded, and other details. This allowed the STEM Hub to share the Exemplary programs with the community of teachers from across New York State.

The Exemplary Summer STEM initiatives recognized in 2014 by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub are:

  • Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute from Hobart & William Smith Colleges
  • STEM Programs in Engineering Education from Vista Teach Instructional Services
  • Lake Ontario STEM Academy from the Sodus CSD and the Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES
  • Carter Street Recreation Center, “STEM Explosion” from the City of Rochester, Department of Recreation and Youth Services
  • Summer Fun Camp Program: Robotics from the Rochester Museum and Science Center
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Teachers had ample opportunity to ask questions about the programs and services

What’s ahead for the Action Team for Student Impact? We will feature a blog series this month celebrating our five exemplary programs.  Each program will be highlighted to give you more information on their program, along with what we saw that made them an exemplary program in our eyes.  In addition, as we celebrate the accomplishment of our goal, we will set new goals for our next program in 2015.

The experience of finding, recognizing, and holding up as examples various types of STEM programs has been inspirational. We hope that we have, in some way, encouraged others to engage in the development of STEM programming that will impact students positively.

The rubric that we developed, along with other information about the program  can be on the Finger Lakes STEM Hub website. Please feel free to use the rubric as a conversation starter,  for professional development or to evaluate an existing STEM program.

In addition, if you are interested in becoming more involved with the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Student Impact Action Team, or have any questions about this program, please contact me at mthomas@monroe2boces.org

Mary W. Thomas is the Assistant Director at the Elementary Science Program offered by Monroe #2 – Orleans BOCES.  She is an active member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee, as well as the Chair for the Student Impact Action Team.

 

 

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