STEM Specialists in the Classroom: MBRT aims to Inspire More Students to Pursue STEM Careers
Through Ground-breaking Classroom Initiative
November 2011: 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.
Developing a Platform
MBRT Developing STEMnet TEACHERS HUB with AT&T Support to Strengthen STEM Teaching, Learning Statewide
BALTIMORE, MD — Based on input from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers across Maryland and initial funding from AT&T, the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT) unveiled plans to build the STEMnet Teachers Hub, a one-stop-shop where STEM teachers can find the resources, support, and professional connections they need to strengthen STEM teaching and learning statewide.
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Implemented in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in 2011, Phase One of STEMnet Teachers Hub features three components identified by teachers as “most needed and favored”:
1) Resource Clearinghouse, which gives teachers online access to STEM curriculum, lesson plans, webinars, tutorials, classroom-ready experiments, and professional development. (Live September 2013)
2) System-Wide STEM Connections, through which teachers can link with STEM educators at all levels and with private-sector STEM professionals to share knowledge and resources. (Live June 2014)
3) Specialists in the Classroom, enabling teachers to call on a roster of STEM practitioners from federal agencies, industry, and higher education to visit their classrooms, augment curriculum-based learning, and inform and inspire students about real-world STEM work. (Live October 2012)
“Strengthening Maryland’s STEM advantage means giving teachers all of the support they need to provide students with strong STEM knowledge and skills,” MBRT Executive Director June Streckfus explained in announcing the new initiative at MBRT’s Annual Meeting, held today in Downtown Baltimore.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley echoes that sentiment, noting “How our graduates perform in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will help define how Maryland performs in the world economy. The correlation is clear.”
Creation of Phase One of the STEMnet teachers Hub is being made possible through a major contribution from AT&T, and support from Citi, Northrop Grumman, IBM, and MSDE.
“At AT&T, we want to inspire our children to imagine the innovations of tomorrow,” said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid Atlantic. “One way we can achieve this goal is by helping equip our teachers with the tools they need to strengthen STEM learning in classrooms across Maryland. And, our support of the STEMnet Teachers Hub is one way to achieve that goal.”
Schweder added that AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have given nearly $80 million to support STEM initiatives since 1995. Projects supported by AT&T contributions range from STEM scholarship programs and science/math focused summer camps for at risk youth to hands-on technology labs and elite robotics competitions at the nation’s leading universities. AT&T contributed $200,000 to MBRT over two years to support the STEMnet Teachers Hub.
According to Streckfus, 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 final recommendation was to “create Maryland’s STEM Innovation Network to make STEM resources available to all.”
As a first step in making that network a reality, MBRT made creation of a support hub for teachers its first priority. MBRT conducted focus groups and an online survey in spring 2010 to gain detailed input from STEM teachers throughout the state.
Based on the results of that market research, MBRT identified and then ranked 11 proposed initiatives to reflect the explicitly stated needs of Maryland STEM teachers. Phase One of STEMnet includes implementation of the three initiatives teachers identified as most important. “These initiatives represent the core imperative driving the first stage of Maryland’s statewide STEM Innovation Network, the STEMnet Teachers Hub,” said Streckfus.
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.
“Stronger science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education will not only boost student learning throughout the curriculum, but will help propel Maryland’s economic growth,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick. “STEMnet provides a nexus for educators, linking them to the newest and best resources to help strengthen classroom instruction, and MSDE is pleased to be working with MBRT on this effort.”