STEM is More Than an Acronym!

September 5, 2012
Margaret Ashida

Margaret Ashida Director, Empire State STEM Learning Network

Kudos to the Finger Lakes STEM Hub on today’s STEM YOU CAN video contest launch – one of the exciting actions it has targeted to engage students in exploring STEM through a creative media project.  The design challenge goes beyond a definition of STEM as the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  It also embraces the idea that STEM education includes the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of the disciplines – along with the arts! – to prepare students to think critically, solve problems and undertake team projects.  Simply said, STEM education is greater than the sum of its parts.

The STEM YOU CAN challenge also reflects the power of collaboration among diverse stakeholders in business, education, and community-based organizations.  Its sponsors – Time Warner Cable and Eastman Kodak Co. – are actively involved in the design and execution of the challenge together with other Hub partners from education and the Hub’s steward, the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

The Finger Lakes STEM hub is also connected to other regions in New York through Empire STEM and to other states through STEMx.  In fact, the Finger Lakes’ video What is STEM is part of our toolkit to introduce the idea that STEM is much more than an acronym.  I can’t wait to see how the students of the Finger Lakes region take it to another level!

Margaret Ashida is the Director of the Empire State STEM Learning Network in the State University of New York System’s Office of the Education Pipeline.

Towards systemic improvement in the Finger Lakes

May 28, 2012

Lisa Ryerson
Wells College

I am delighted to join the Board of Champions of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.  As the long-time president of Wells College in Aurora, along the shore of beautiful Cayuga Lake, I am well aware of the need for quality education in science, technology, engineering and math across the spectrum of higher education. Here in the Finger Lakes region we have an especially rich and diverse mix of educational institutions and a wealth of knowledge.  Our challenge, of course, is to translate our commitment to STEM education, our capacity for excellent teaching, and our potential for transformative learning, to broad and effective action.  I believe in joining together in this collaborative coalition, we have the best chance of creating systemic improvements and for STEM education. I look forward to working with this dynamic group of educators and leaders for the benefit of our students and our communities.

This is STEM!

May 17, 2012

Michelle Kavanaugh
Honeoye Falls-Lima School District

Note:  This is fifth in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions. Dr. Kavanaugh was a speaker at the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch on May 10th, 2012. Below is the transcript of her presentation.

This is an exciting moment for regional K-12 education.  The Hub is one of the most promising supports in our mission to assure all students are college and career-ready. At a time when local employers are being forced to leave STEM-related jobs unfilled, school districts and colleges share a mandate in providing students with pathways and experiences that lead to a more vibrant future.  Together, we face a new-era Sputnik-type of imperative to change the course of education.

STEM education is a catalyst for a new tomorrow because it can engage, excite and empower.  It can lift up learning because it challenges students to think critically, collaborate and solve complex problems.  It can inspire because it is built on forging four meaningful connections.  Here is what I mean:

#1)  Connections with the Real World – Nothing is more motivating for learners than when rolling up their sleeves to do hands-on experiences that are relevant to their interests and to their future opportunities.  For example:  Solving authentic environmental problems or interning in local businesses – this is STEM!

#2)  Connections across Content Areas – Students are involved in solving complex problems when they can design new solutions and explore innovations by applying knowledge broadly across subject boundaries.  For example:  Robotics competitions – this is STEM!

#3)  Connections with Higher Standards – STEM learning is rigorous and aligned with industry standards as well as state and national core curriculum and the newly-released Next Generation National Science Standards.  For example:  the Hub’s plan to inspire student created video productions based on inquiry and media literacy, as seen in the Hub’s Video – this is STEM!

#4) Connections with Business and Community – STEM learning requires the active involvement of leaders and enlightened volunteers across economic sectors.  For example:  partnerships that support learning with the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Siemens and Xerox – this is STEM!

The Hub is poised to provide schools support for professional development, and sharing of innovative practices.  This gives us hope and great promise. A recent Hub-sponsored tour of an East Syracuse school district is an example of the work of the Hub in building local capacity through valuable networking.

On behalf of K-12 educators, we call on each of you to join us in making STEM education a local covenant for building a better future.

Michelle Kavanaugh is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee.

Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch

April 30, 2012

Sara Silverstone

Each month since December of 2010 I have had the privilege to facilitate a remarkable collaborative group of leaders in education, government, higher ed and community organizations as we developed a regional Hub of the Empire State STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Learning Network. We developed a mission, vision, goals, working committees and action items for the year. In the past week we began inviting influential community leaders to join our Board of Champions. We have big plans and a wonderful, energetic and diverse group to carry them out. This is networking at its best!

Nearly every day I read about economic problems whose solution is to develop a technically trained workforce who can fill the jobs of the 21st Century. Students graduate without the skills employers are desperately seeking, and as a result, half of all of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed while great jobs are remain unfilled. Clearly there is a gap between what we are teaching our young people and what they need to learn in order to find good jobs.

What can leaders from business and education do about this disconnect, which adversely affects everybody?  By coming together in agreement about the elements of a high-quality 21st Century education and ensuring that that is what our students receive, the double-edged problem of unemployment and lack of a skilled workforce can be addressed. For too long, industry and education operated in separate silos, unaware and unconcerned about their common needs.

With the launch of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, our region joins a statewide and national STEM learning network which enables all constituencies to acknowledge our common goals and work across sectors to address our nations most pressing technical and economic problems.

Over the next few weeks, participants in the Finger Lakes STEM Hub will share their perspective on how STEM education can address our most pressing problems and how the Finger Lakes STEM Hub can contribute to these solutions.

NYSERDA Energy Smart Workshops

December 16, 2009

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has created four new free workshops for teachers to help integrate energy education into their lesson plans and create energy smart students. These workshops are for K-12 Teachers, educators in not-for-profit agencies, pre-service educators, college professors, and other educational professionals. These workshops have been specialized base on grade level. The ABCs of Energy is aimed at grades K-3 and is a hands-on workshop that lays the groundwork for energy education. The 4 Es of Energy for grades 4-6 uses hands on activities to explore energy forms and sources. Focus on Solar is a workshop is specialized for 5-8 or 9-12 and teachers solar energy applications. Energy trilogy for grades 7-12 explores how economics, efficiency and environment relate to the energy challenges before us.

These workshops will be held in the finger lakes region. The first, Energy Trilogy, will be held on Jan. 28, 2010 at Genesee County Community College and again on April 28 at Monroe 2 BOCES. Monroe 2 BOCES will also host Focus on Solar for both grade levels on April 29, the ABCs of Energy and the 4 Es of Energy on April 30. More information about these workshops including location and registration information can be found Here at the NYSERDA website. The Workshop Flyer also gives a more in-depth look at the four workshops.