The Education Foundation received $129,000 grant from The Boeing Company today to develop and implement a plan for aligning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties with workforce needs. The ultimate goal of the “STEM in the Workplace” initiative is to ensure a pipeline of graduates who are equipped with knowledge and skills that match our region’s economic needs.
The Boeing funds will allow The Education Foundation to provide professional development for teachers of STEM disciplines in three ways: teachers will gain on-site experience in STEM-related businesses; participate in teaching institutes that focus on project-based learning; and implement new methods for teaching STEM to their students.
The growing need for STEM education is largely due to the rapid growth of STEM-related industries globally in recent years. Because STEM industries like Boeing are expanding worldwide, it is crucial to educate students in these fields to provide companies with a competitive workforce.
By doing “externships” in the region’s businesses, teachers will see STEM in action, learn first-hand about workplace requirements and simultaneously gain a wealth of ideas for student projects. The practical business experience will be followed by training in project-based learning. The core idea behind project-based learning is that real-world problems capture students’ interest and stimulate critical thinking and teamwork as the students apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The STEM in the Workplace initiative will give the 60 participating teachers a new arsenal of project-based teaching strategies aimed at preparing students for entry-level jobs that are becoming more and more sophisticated.
“Most teachers go directly from their own education into teaching. This program gives teachers a chance to see and work within the business world and then translate those experiences into ‘real world’ learning experiences for students.” says David Ramey, chairman of The Education Foundation.
There are multiple exit points for students in STEM-related fields, so whether a student wants to continue their studies through higher education at a 4-year or 2-year college or enter the workforce directly after graduating high school, there are opportunities for them to pursue their goals and interests in STEM. In addition, STEM education increases employability for students and reduces training time and cost for employers. STEM in the Workplace will address a critical regional need by preparing students for success in a work world that increasingly demands high-level skills in science, technology, engineering and math.
STEM in the Workplace is guided by a steering committee made up of business and education leaders. The committee is currently engaging the support of STEM-related businesses who will offer two-day externships to teachers in the summer of 2011. Businesses interested in participating should contact Angie Rylands, The Education Foundation’s Regional STEM Coordinator, at email@example.com.
About The Education Foundation: The Education Foundation, an initiative of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1995 to build partnerships between the business community and the schools, mobilize resources and advocate the changes necessary in our community to prepare all students for the careers of the future. Fore more information visit www.edfound.net.