I recently returned from a presentation at the ASCD National Conference in Houston, which you can download here [Part 1]  [Part 2], and one of the themes in the discussions following my presentation was on how to find and reach STEM resources for schools and districts that are interested in getting a STEM initiative going.

Today’s White House Science Fair announcement couldn’t come at a better time.  You can read the press release here: [$240 million in new STEM Commitments].  As busy educators, you likely don’t have a lot of time to read through the whole of the announcement, so let me highlight a few areas of interest for you:

First — this initiative is not new, it started in 2009, and this announcement is largely a summary of all the activity that was inspired in the private sector based on that 2009 STEM initiative and funding.  In that regard, here are a few useful takeaways:
1. As the President has noted, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”

 – We at STEM Jobs say the same thing: “For years organizations have sponsored the football team, baseball team … it’s time to sponsor math class and reinforce the value of these subjects for our students.

2. A series of roundtable discussion is beginning in 2015 — STEM Jobs will be taking part in the first of these discussions with the goal of emphasizing the importance of connecting classrooms to careers.
3. 120 Universities are committed to train 20,000 engineers via the “Grand Challenge” scholars program — Here is the link: http://www.grandchallengescholars.org/active-programs   http://www.grandchallengescholars.org/update-list
 — These have personal names, phone numbers and emails that you can connect with on behalf of your students.
4. A few organizations are mentioned by name with new initiatives:
a. 3M – $15 million committed to STEM programs for women and underserved populations
b. Motorola (Phil and I are working on this) $4 Million for STEM programming to underserved students
c. CUNY – $10 Million for internships and career readiness for first-generation college students
d. Wellesley College – $20 Million to support women in STEM from pre-college to graduate training
e. Microsoft launching the “Big Dream Movement”
5. NOAA, NASA, DoE are launching a new climate and energy challenge program.
6. 114 Universities are participating in the University Innovation Fellows program and several now focus on STEM programs for first-generation college students.
7. Best Buy is engaging with FIRST robotics (one of our outreach partners).
8. There are a tremendous number of growing programs and resources for students and teachers … some providing resources, others funds to local teachers, counselors and schools.  Here’s a few:
  • 3D Systems, the Youth Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and the Association of Science-Technology Centers are forming a network of libraries and museums focused on 3D digital design and fabrication, which will support increased access to 3D printers and relevant educational materials. The first 100 libraries and museums in this network have been awarded Cube 3D printers, and have committed to run over 1,000 3D printing programs across the United States.
  • Aleph Objects will be donating over $30,000 worth of LulzBot 3D printers to schools, libraries, and educational organizations.
  • Digital Harbor Foundation, with the Perpetual Innovation Fund, is establishing a new program to provide educators with free 3D printers and training in order to start youth enterprises for 3D printing at their schools. Participants commit to pay forward a portion of the proceeds from these enterprises to other schools to launch their own programs.
  • The Exploratorium will offer a free online course during summer 2015 focused on the “how, what, and why” of tinkering and making activities as a follow up to the success of its first course, “The Fundamentals of Tinkering,” which enrolled over 10,000 participants. The Exploratorium is also helping to bring more hands-on STEM learning opportunities to students through the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
  • littleBits is launching a campaign to create local “chapters” in 100 cities by end of 2015, giving students, designers, engineers, and others an easy-to-access peer group of fellow makers in the open hardware community.
  • United Negro College Fund, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the White House Initiative on HBCUs, with support from SparkFun Electronics and 3D Hubs, will engage students at more than ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in maker activities. This will include the first-ever Making for Change Showcase, which will highlight innovative solutions to community-based challenges.
  • The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and its public library members are expanding their commitment to making technology-driven STEM education widely available to all students, including through its annual Innovations Initiative which recognizes individual library success and provides a growing database of leading practices.

There’s certainly a lot to consider in the rapidly expanding world of STEM education, which is why we’ve created new resources and training for you.  If you haven’t done so yet, check out our free resources via the links below and #DoWhatYouLove!

1. Teacher Training:  classroomtrainingseries.stemjobs.com

2. Career Advisement: stemtype.stemjobs.com

3. Student articles: stemjobs.com