The purpose of this blog is to explore Louisiana's strategy and capacity for advancing STEM education, careers, and workforce for all. Louisiana has its own array of STEM assets, strengths and approaches in place - thus this site is designed to discover these strategies and activities. Not just a PK12 issue - all stakeholders, higher education, workforce development, economic development, business & industry, are welcome to participate. Hopefully the site will pose and answer questions that will ultimately help guide and focus diverse partners in this effort.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Congratutations to Iberville Parish for Launching Dual Credit Program with BRCC

Myiesha Bell and Amanda Mayeaux (BRCC) Photo by Advocate Staff -Arthur Lauck
Myiesha Bell (right) and "16 other high school juniors and seniors from MSA-East and Plaquemine High School are members of the inaugural class of students attending the Iberville Parish School District’s Dual Enrollment Program at BRCC."  According to BRCC's website, a junior has the potential to earn up to 30 hours of credit before high school graduation. Not only is this a cost savings but has proven to remove typical barriers to post-secondary education for under-represented youth.  I applaud both Iberville Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish for participating in this program.

Read more... 

Friday, June 14, 2013

LPB to Host "Status of STEM in Louisiana" Public Square Meeting

I applaud Louisiana Public Broadcasting for initiating this long overdue topic!  (See description below)

About a year ago I started this blog for the same reason. Meaningful dialog, such as this from all sectors (well-represented workforce, nonprofit, and governmental leaders and education voices, combined with STEM-knowledgeable experts) is essential to establish a Louisiana STEM agenda that could impact many programs leading to much needed STEM talent development described.  

After seven years of working in the STEM education arena in Texas, I learned that the following were critical:

1.  Cohesive strategy and alignment (business, academic and non-academic)
2.  Advocacy for higher science and math standards or adoption of engineering standards in K12
3.  Increased support for inspirational STEM learning opportunities (during AND beyond the school day), such as projects, internships, and mentorships for high school and post-secondary students that provide key exposure to STEM professionals
4.  Teacher education reform such as UTEACH and many others around the state that stress project-based pedagogy and technology
5.  Parent/community awareness building
6.  Support of high-need, cutting-edge associate’s degree programs
7.  And of course, resource allocation for facilities, technology, curriculum, or teaching resources for PK16 classrooms.

Tune in and be a part of the conversation!  “STEM Status: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math in Louisiana” airing Wednesday, June 26 at 7 p.m. on LPB
A How can Louisiana better equip its citizens for future STEM positions?

Occupations in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are projected to grow by nearly 10% over the next five years. Experts estimate Louisiana alone will have 69,000 STEM job vacancies by 2018. But who will fill these positions?

Nationwide, more than 300,000 jobs are currently being left vacant because employers can’t find individuals skilled enough in STEM. In Louisiana, 40% of eighth-graders report never designing a science project. Only 3% of high-school seniors take advance college placement tests in science. While male students have shown a recent increased interest in STEM, Louisiana females’ interest has been decreasing since 2008.

So, how can Louisiana better equip its citizens for future STEM positions? Are Louisiana’s educators adequately prepared to teach STEM courses? And how can students be encouraged to pursue STEM careers? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “STEM Status: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math in Louisiana” airing Wednesday, June 26 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD.

This program is made possible in part through a grant from Dow Chemical Company.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

STEM - Beyond the School Day

Last week I was in charge of my two grandchildren, ages 4 and 5, while their parents were out of town. Besides the rigorous routine of getting them up every morning and successfully to school and back, I had the most interesting experience of asking the age-old question: “What did you learn at school today?”  What is most interesting to me however, is that both grand-daughter and -son designated science lessons as the most memorable.  Although science gets a bad rap most of the time, the truth is that when science is taught in a hands-on and inquiry-based approach, these lessons become the most exciting element of the day. When children take on the role of scientist, experimenter, and inventor, they become the expert and feel confident.

Which brings me to the afterschool STEM movement …

Afterschool programs are a rapidly growing national strategy to boost STEM achievement and expose underrepresented students to STEM careers. The afterschool and informal science fields are finding that the inclusion of high quality STEM learning experiences such as investigating, reasoning, analyzing, concluding, and explaining can be regularly integrated in afterschool learning content in ways that contribute to a youth’s school and career success.  Because of the fact that many youth participating in afterschool programs are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, these programs hold great promise for increasing the amount of interdisciplinary hands-on, inquiry-based learning that leads to college readiness and the possibility of STEM careers.

It is important to note that because of afterschool’s ongoing STEM strategy and the number of organizations dedicated to the effort, this field has valuable lessons to share. For example, drawing from program evaluations conducted by Donner and Wang (2013)1, the following recommendations for building effective STEM afterschool programs could well advise in-school STEM strategy as well.  Recommendations for success mentioned in their recent article, “Shifting Expectations,” include:  1) Emphasis on a co-inquiry and ‘facilitated’ approach to teaching and learning, 2) Appropriate and high quality curriculum, 3) Ongoing, outcomes-based professional development, 4) Sustained, consistent and intense student participation (more than one hour per week), and 5) Partnerships with similar entities (all hands on deck approach) that can help support and extend the effort.

For additional information about the afterschool STEM movement as well as the article mentioned, check out NIOST’s (National Institute On Out-Of-School Time) Spring 2013 issue of Afterschool Matters that focuses on STEM.  Topics include: 
·         Models for afterschool STEM
·         Measuring and scaling success
·         Types of programs offered by various organization types
·         Improving the experiences of the children and training for facilitators
·         STEM and girls
·         Implementing STEM resources from Public Television

Through innovative afterschool programs, the momentum for enhancing STEM learning is growing. Although some of the same barriers for building engaging STEM experiences exist in the regular classrooms today, it is exciting to see the afterschool and informal science field take responsibility for delivering hands-on and memorable science experiences, as well as collecting evidence of what is working. 

As for my grandchildren, at the end of the day they confidently reported on the origin of sea shells and rain forest habitat. Science CAN BE memorable.

1  Shifting Expectations:  Bringing STEM to Scale through Expanded Learning Systems (NIOST-Spring 2013 Afterschool Matters)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baton Rouge Area Strategic Industry Sectors and STEM

For great insight into targeted and emerging industry sectors, I recommend you take a look at the recent Baton Rouge Business Report's quick summary of a November 2011 study conducted by BRAC.

The summary called "Picking Targets: A BRAC commissioned report identifies strategic sectors for the Capital Region" can be found here.

This study is exciting in identifies potential and emerging industry sectors for our region. Very exciting!  

What would be even more exciting would be the thought that the talent for these innovative workplaces is developed right here in our own backyard!  Important next steps for BRAC, along with existing and emerging industries, would be to support the development of a PK-16 STEM, workforce-aligned education strategy that provides early inspiration, encourages post-secondary commitment, and ultimately lands them a dream career.