The Spokane STEM Network is composed of leaders from K-12, higher education, business and community-based organizations and agencies. This group came together and evaluated community needs, current educational assets, and challenges, and opportunities in the community. They then developed five broad-based goals designed to catalyze enhanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and innovation in Spokane County.
There are several key themes permeate these goals and associated strategies.
First, in order to prepare young people in the region for today’s and tomorrow’s STEM careers, we must increase interest in STEM disciplines. This requires increased awareness among parents, students and the general population of the importance STEM competency and soft skills such as teamwork, analysis, critical thought, inquiry, problem-solving, and communication.
Next, in order to facilitate learning in these areas, the teaching and learning environment must be restructured to stimulate student inquiry and acquisition of necessary skills. Project-based approaches should be developed and leveraged to engage all students in the learning process.
We also need to ensure that our educational professionals have the technical and pedagogical skills necessary to create an engaging project-based STEM learning environment. Since most educators were not trained to teach in this manner, they must be given opportunities to gain necessary skills and experiences. Our formal and non-formal educators should also be seen (and see themselves) as innovators who bring new methods forward, test them, and then share with others. To this end, we seek to enhance communications among educators and stimulate the application of innovative practices across schools and community-based organizations in the region.
Because the vast majority of STEM jobs require postsecondary certificates and degrees, student success in colleges and universities is critical. We need to better understand the barriers to this success and seek solutions whether tied to technical competency in areas such as math, cost, access to childcare, transportation, or other factors. Additionally, students must be allowed to move efficiently from institution to institution, and articulation agreements need to allow fluid movement of credit hours.
Finally, we need to recognize when rules, law and policies become barriers to educational innovation. We will then work with local, state, and federal agencies; legislators; and members of Congress to ensure that there are no unnecessary impediments along the pathway to STEM careers. Our five goals and associated strategies can be viewed by clicking on the menu to the right.