SW Washington STEM Learning Network

Activity Update for the Week of 12/7 - 12/11

Creating and Expanding Worksite Learning Legislative Update

This week we received the latest draft of the WSL bill with some fiscal questions from Megan Wargacki the Education Committee Council in the Office of Program Research for the House of Representatives. Once we respond to the fiscal questions Megan will create another draft and send it to us, so we will have something to share with our other representatives. Along with the next draft I believe we will also get the blue sheet.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

Last night 12 Career Counselors from Camas, Battle Ground, Evergreen and Vancouver school districts came together to develop a plan to help low and middle income students from our region who are pursuing a high demand STEM bachelor degree get a WSOS scholarship. More than 1200 scholarships are awarded annually statewide to high school seniors and college freshman and sophomores worth up to $22,500 (over five years). The scholarship may be used at 68 colleges or universities in Washington state. Over 200 eligible majors qualify for the scholarship. If we are successful with this project we could provide our students over $2,000,000 in scholarships.

Project Overveiw

5th Annual SW Washington Science and Engineering Fair coming February 27th to Camas.

The SW Washington Science and Engineering Fair (SWSEF) is affiliated with the Washington Science and Engineering Fair (WSEF) and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international pre college science competition. ISEF is a program of Society for Science and the Public. The goals of SWSEF is to encourage student involvement in real research and problem solving as well provide an opportunity for students to discuss science and engineering with professionals and a chance to win over $25 million in scholarships and prizes.

High School students in SW Washington have been conducting scientific research in the Science and Engineering Fair since 1984 and SWSEF has hosted a fair since 2012. Prior to 2012 the Intel NWSE Fair in Portland was able to allow SW Washington Students to participate in their fair. The competition has grown to more than 100 high school students conducting more than 80 research projects. Students compete in categories encompassing all the scientific disciplines, engineering, computer science and mathematics.

The fair is held annually on the last Saturday in February or the first Saturday in March.

SW Washington Science and Engineering Fair Overview

News in STEM

New ‘No Child Left Behind’ Strengthens K-12 STEM Education

Law makes STEM education a priority for nation’s K-12 schools

While the ESSA focuses mostly on broad K-12 education policy – including testing requirements, state education plans, and federal grant funding to the states – the law also prioritizes STEM education. The law has nearly 100 references to STEM, and the bill’s authors clearly sought to incorporate STEM as a national educational priority. Among STEM education highlights, the law:

  • provides funding through grants to the states for
    • STEM education engagement, courses, after-school programs, service-based and field opportunities, and other activities;
    • professional development and instructional materials for STEM teachers; and
    • the creation and enhancement of STEM-focused specialty schools;
  • allows schools to partner with institutions of higher education for professional development for teachers, including in STEM;
  • establishes a nationwide STEM Master Teacher Corps, a state-led effort to recognize, reward, attract, and retain outstanding STEM teachers, particularly in high-need and rural schools;
  • retains the No Child Left Behind requirement that states must test all students in science, once each in elementary, middle and high school;
  • retains the requirement that states must test all students in mathematics in each of grades three through eight and again in high school; and
  • retains mathematics and science, and adds computer science, as core academic subjects that are part of what constitutes a “well-rounded education.

Notably, however, the bill does not renew the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program, a DOE grant program created in the NCLB law that funds collaborative partnerships between STEM departments at institutions of higher education and high-need school districts. It is not yet clear whether the MSP program will continue at the DOE without authorization, but the Department should still be able to fund such partnerships under the new law even without a formal MSP program.

Learning While Earning: The New Normal