Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Group Sets Direction to Tackle Critical Challenges
Wilmington, DE– To ensure Delaware's children graduate more ready to succeed in the high-wage jobs of tomorrow, and to help build a hiring pipeline for employers who can choose to locate or expand in Delaware because of its talented workforce, Delaware's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Council laid out a broad agenda in its kick-off meeting today.
"All of our state's parents want their kids to graduate with the best possible chance for success. They want them to be able to make their way into sustainable careers in growing fields. At the same time, so many of our state's employers and future employers need a workforce with a strong STEM background,” Markell said.
A strong STEM workforce helps Delaware employers continue to be national leaders in the innovation economy, seek out employees who can strengthen their research and development, make their workplaces more efficient and ensure their business practices are more environmentally-sensitive. STEM education programs cover numerous disciplines, including agricultural sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences, psychology, economics, engineering, computer sciences and earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences.
"I am so pleased to see all the great STEM education going on in our state's public schools and the light in the kids eyes as they discover their potential in these fields. This is about preparing them to help small tech businesses like the one I visited this week in Laurel or large employers looking for strong STEM backgrounds in their new hires. This is also about preparing and inspiring our next generation of entrepreneurs,” Markell said.
The Council includes a mix of educators from Universities and public schools, school administrators, employers from high-tech companies like Dupont and ILC Dover (which makes the space suits for NASA), and representatives from state government including the Departments of Labor and Education and Secretary Jim Sills from the Department of Technology and Innovation. The Council's co-Chairs are former Senator Ted Kaufman and Judson Wagner, STEM Program Manager for the Brandywine School District, who taught high school physics for 15 years.
"This is exciting. Where are the jobs of the future going to be? So many are going to be in STEM fields and require STEM backgrounds,” Kaufman said. "The task before us is going to be very, very hard but it is critical we tackle it together.”
When he served, Kaufman was the only member of the United States Senate with a background in engineering, having graduated Duke as a mechanical engineer. Before leading the staff of then-Senator Joe Biden, Kaufman worked as an engineer at the Dupont company, whose inventions over more than 200 years helped earn the state a reputation for and a legacy of innovation in STEM areas.
"Most of my students were seniors. I could help many of them prepare to meet their hopes and dreams in college the next year. But I also heard so many stories of students who wanted to become engineers and scientists in college but did not have the background ready to make that happen,” Bennett said. STEM efforts in schools throughout the state, targeting student interest earlier in their academic careers, is critical and the STEM Council will "help many kids reach their dreams.”
The Council was charged by the Governor to make progress in nine important areas:
- Advise the Department of Education on issues relating to STEM education and work with the Department on plans to accomplish the Department's specific goals and objectives for STEM education in Delaware;
- Review and evaluate STEM education programs being implemented in Delaware schools or elsewhere, and work with districts and charter schools on incorporating proven STEM instruction programs that offer a rigorous course of study into their curricula;
- Review and evaluate federal sources of funding for STEM-related programs at the state, district, and school level, and assist the Department, districts, or charter schools in the application process for grants to create STEM-related programs;
- Advise the Department of Education on strategies to improve student test scores in mathematics, science and other areas subject to standardized testing, and on alignment of STEM programs with science and mathematics common standards;
- Collaborate with institutions of higher education on college-readiness standards for students seeking to pursue STEM educational pathways, and work with the Department, school districts and charter schools on strategies to increase the number of students who are college-ready in STEM fields;
- Meet with educators and school leaders on how to improve professional development in STEM-related areas, including review of STEM-related professional development programs and STEM alternative certification programs, and promote the state-wide use of effective programs;
- Promote collaboration and partnerships on STEM education issues between schools and local employers;
- Study the demographic distribution of students taking STEM education programs or choosing STEM career pathways, including the representation of women and minorities, and develop strategies to address those disparities and promote STEM education and careers in high-needs, high-minority or low-performing school environments; and
- Pursue strategies for increasing the recognition among students, teachers, parents and educators of the importance of STEM education.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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