BALTIMORE, MD (11/9/11)
— The Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT) today unveiled STEM Specialists in the Classroom, the initial component of Maryland’s STEMnet Teacher Hub – a pioneering, one-stop-shop where STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers statewide can find the resources, support, and professional connections needed to strengthen STEM teaching and learning.
“MBRT believes that widespread competency and strong innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math will ensure Maryland’s – and the nation’s – ability to compete internationally, prosper economically, and provide opportunity to its young people,” MBRT Chairman and Northrop Grumman President Jim Pitts told a group of more than 200 business executives, government officials, and educators from across Maryland in attendance at the organization’s 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting.
To that end, MBRT created STEM Specialists in the Classroom. Designed to augment classroom instruction, demonstrate a specific subject’s relevance in the workplace, and inspire students to pursue STEM careers, Specialists in the Classroom is being implemented now as a pilot program focusing on biology at four high schools in Baltimore and Harford counties – Catonsville, Eastern Tech, Woodlawn, and Bel Air.
MBRT recruited 50 life science professionals to work with select biology teachers, supporting classroom learning on topics that the teachers have indicated are either particularly challenging or of high interest to students.
To make certain that teachers were involved in developing the program, MBRT conducted an online survey and focus groups with biology teachers statewide to identify those areas of greatest need, design program elements aligned to the Maryland state curriculum, and create an online system to link the workplace professionals with teachers.
“The online system operates like an ‘e-Harmony’ for STEM teachers and STEM workers,” said MBRT Executive Director June Streckfus. Profiles of the biology and life science specialists, including their positions, employers, and specific areas of expertise, are posted online. Teachers then browse, select, and schedule STEM specialists to come into their classrooms for presentations on specific biology topics.
Ultimately, in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education and local school districts, MBRT plans to expand STEM Specialists in the Classroom to other high schools throughout Maryland and broaden the subject matter beyond biology to other STEM subjects.
“In Year Two, we plan to expand STEM Specialists in the Classroom focusing on biology to 12 high schools in six school districts,” explained Streckfus. “We also plan to introduce a STEM Specialists in the Classroom program for algebra, refining all program elements based on what we are learning from the pilot program.”
“Maryland is leading the nation with its development of STEMnet,” according to Education First Consulting, a national consulting firm that recently conducted research on STEM initiatives nationwide. “No other state is planning to develop an approach with similar depth and scale.”
The concept for STEMnet originated with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s STEM Task Force. In 2009, the Task Force offered seven recommendations for securing Maryland’s future as a global leader in STEM-based education, research, and economic development. The overarching recommendation was to “create Maryland’s STEM Innovation Network to make STEM resources available to all.”
Additional initiatives recommended by STEM teachers will be phased in over the next few years with support from stakeholders throughout Maryland whose shared interest in advancing STEM teaching and achievement will transform the state’s ability to compete successfully on the international stage.
Creation of Phase One of the STEMnet Teacher Hub is being made possible through major grants from AT&T and Race to the Top, through the Maryland State Department of Education, and support from Citi, Northrop Grumman, IBM, and the Maryland Biotechnology Center.
In addition to unveiling Specialists in the Classroom, MBRT’s Annual Meeting featured a panel discussion on the future of workforce and education needs in Maryland led by UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski; Norman Augustine, retired Chairman of Lockheed Martin and the first Chairman of MBRT; Robert S. Marshall, CEO of Earth Networks, Inc.; and Gloria Flach, President of Northrop Grumman Enterprise Shared Services.
In addition, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley delivered remarks focusing on Maryland’s response to the educational challenges confronting its students today and in the future.
MBRT is a non-profit coalition of leading employers that have made a long-term commitment to improve education and student achievement in Maryland. Founded in 1992, MBRT begins its third decade of commitment to schools and students.
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