STEMpact collaborative works to improve St. Louis education and develop exemplary teachers who provide high quality STEM learning experiences
(July 09, 2014 by edavisblacktwig, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
St. Louis, MO – There simply aren’t enough qualified workers to fill the hundreds of science, technology, engineering and math jobs available, today. Growth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs in the past decade, and is expected to continue to grow at a faster rate in the coming decade. In response to this demand STEMpact, a local collaborative partnership aimed at improving science, technology, engineering and math education, created the STEM Teacher Quality (TQ) Initiative. The third annual STEM Teacher Quality Initiative (STEM TQ) will host 106 teachers from Missouri and Illinois school districts starting July 14 through July 24 at Washington University’s Danforth Campus.
STEMpact’s collaborative partnership strives to get children interested in STEM careers early on in their education. The collaborative is uniquely funded by Ameren Missouri, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Emerson, Express Scripts Foundation, The Laclede Group, Inc.; Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Manifest Digital, Maritz, Monsanto Fund, Peabody Energy, and Sigma-Aldrich Corporation. Through the real-world applications of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the program assists educators in raising student test scores, identifying STEM-capable learners, and breaking cultural stereotypes. The program is free to school district’s that qualify. This year’s STEM TQ consists of 106 teachers from schools throughout the St. Louis metro area and East St. Louis, up from 75 teachers just last year.
“It’s amazing to see the support from St. Louis companies who understand the importance of educating the future work force in STEM topics. STEM jobs have grown at a rate three times faster than non-STEM jobs in the past decade and we just expect that growth to continue,” said Deborah Holmes, project manager and facilitator for the STEM TQ. “We currently have a waitlist, which tells us the program is gaining in popularity. When we started the program in 2012 we had 64 participants.”
During training, STEMpact facilitators and educators work with teachers of kindergarten to eighth grade whose lesson plans can be extended and integrated with science, technology, engineering, and math problems. The day-long sessions include both classroom-style presentations, investigations, and field trips to area companies for hands-on learning that show participants how to more effectively make STEM connections in their classrooms. Participating school districts this year include Afton, East St. Louis, Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Pattonville, University City, and Kirkwood. The YMCA of Greater St. Louis is participating as an informal provider.
Following the two-week STEM TQ Institute, STEMpact provides additional training consisting of three STEM professional development days and six after-school STEM professional development sessions throughout the school year. Results show that the past two years of the program have already made a difference. Data from 2013 shows that students whose teachers participated in STEM TQ were scoring higher on Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests in these areas. On average, students scored 10 points better on the MAP test in math and eight points better in science.
“Instead of looking for skilled employees elsewhere—to the detriment of Illinois and Missouri workers and their economies— our industry partners decided to invest locally in STEM education. The investment is about $3,000 per teacher,” said Holmes. “We want to thank our funders and our host, Washington University. There’s only so much funding our companies can give. We’re always looking for more partners.”
STEM is a national, state and regional initiative aimed at improving science, technology, engineering and math education. This comprehensive approach prepares young people to be competent and self-confident learners, gives them practice applying learned concepts to solve problems and prepares them for future work in related fields. Locally, STEMpact aims to provide the technology and other education resources for teachers, parents, local businesses and the community, so that STEM education in St. Louis can thrive. For more information about STEMpact and to see what this year’s STEM TQ participants are learning, visit http://stempact.org.