Cultivating STEM

CSLWP Winter 2021 Newsletter

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STEM Ecosystem of Carbon, Schuylkill, Luzerne, Wayne & Pike Counties

The CSLWP STEM Ecosystem is a one of 89 designated STEM Ecosystems in the US, Canada, Mexico and Kenya. The STEM Learning Ecosystem initiative empowers communities to bring together local partners to create systemic change to ensure under served and underrepresented students develop STEM knowledge and skills they need to learn and thrive in today's world.

Success in the New Economy (OFFICIAL)
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Learn at Home with PBS

In PA, local PBS stations have banded together across the state in partnership with local schools and intermediate units to provide daily programming that can enhance learning for students of all ages. Not only is the programming educational, but activities and lessons that can be completed at home are provided (especially for our youngest learners). Check out WVIA's Learn at Home website to see the program schedule and weekly activities that you can encourage FUN, STEM learning at home.

PBS Learn at Home Webpage

Highwood-USA is headquartered in Hometown PA and has a second facility in Hazleton.

The Hometown facility extrudes synthetic lumber that we sell to Spa OEM’s, and for other outdoor uses. We also extrude all of the synthetic lumber that we use to build outdoor products in our Hazleton facility. We currently make over 2,500 SKU’s of outdoor products, such as Adirondack chairs, porch swings, benches, dining sets, and pergolas. They are sold under the highwood brand on our own web store, as well as Amazon, Wayfair, Lowes, Home Depot, and other major on-line channels. We recently launched a commercial line of outdoor products, sold under the Sequoia Professional brand.

We offer a wide range of employment opportunities at both facilities. We have been in as constant hiring mode with the explosive growth we have seen in outdoor products. In the past few months, we have hired 39 additional technicians and are still looking for 30 more.

The career opportunities we provide range from profile technicians, to QA technicians, to Fabrication technicians, as well as maintenance, engineering techs, machinists, and customer care. Skill sets required are good communication skills, a desire and ability to learn, and ability to work within a team. The job skills can all be trained.

As a parent with a child who may not want to attend college, a trade school, or join the military, Highwood offers a great opportunity to start a career. We have a unique and progressive pay system that allows team members to progress through pay levels by demonstrating technical skills and soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. We have managers who are very good coaches, so new team members without all of the polished skills can learn them, as long as they are willing. The starting pay and benefits are excellent, with entry level pay of $38,000 annually and medical, dental, vision, STD/LTD, 401K, paid vacation, and paid holidays. The work culture is very good. The manufacturing areas are clean and safe, the other team members are helpful and welcoming, and the growth opportunities are unlimited. A technician with 3-5 years of experience who demonstrates a desire to progress is averaging $50,000 in base pay.

The COVID pandemic has changed the “new norm” for Highwood, as it has for the world. We had to quickly learn how to add safety procedures to keep everyone safe and healthy, but we also had to quickly learn how to attract new talent to support the capacity increases driven by consumer demand. If you are a parent trying to guide your child towards a career opportunity, here it is! Take advantage of the timing the pandemic has afforded many small to medium businesses and encourage your child to apply. If they are unsure or apprehensive, but interested, we can provide a job shadow so they can experience what a work-day would look like. We also offer summer work opportunities for High School and College students looking for summer employment, as well as co-op opportunities for those in a relevant technical program, such as woodworking, machining, or electrical/mechanical.

By: Danielle Hess, COO, Highwood-USA

Play a Little Winter STEAM BINGO!

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An Update from SHINE Afterschool Programs in Wayne & Pike Counties

WP SHINE started its pilot year in September 2019. The program began traditionally, operating 5 centers in Wayne Highlands SD, Western Wayne SD, and Wallenpaupack SD. Since COVID first happened and schools closed down in March, our program adapted by moving to a fully virtual program. We offered programming Monday – Thursday for 2 hours per day for the remainder of Spring 2020. We provided the students and families with weekly STEM bags to ensure that hands-on learning would continue. We also incorporated a 6-week virtual summer program during which we continued with weekly STEM bags as well as a weekly cooking class. We partnered with local farms to purchase ingredients and explored the theme of agriculture with weekly challenges such as making solar ovens to make s’mores. We initiated a 6 week “Get Healthy” program with recipes and physical activities. We also increased social emotional learning with mood charts and journaling. Our teacher’s conducted bi-weekly check in with all our families to assess needs such as food shortages and connected them with local community resources.

With our Fall 2020 return, we re-wrote many aspects of our program to ensure safety during the pandemic. We created individual bags for the students with all necessary materials so that 6 ft distancing could be observed at all times. Our projects were modified while keeping the theme so that each student could complete them individually. We began the fall with manufacturing during which our students were able to explore careers in Engineering, Quality Control Technician, Model Maker, Environmental Scientist, Robotics Technician, Supervisor, and Welder. Each student built a bee house as part of a career project and our service learning project.

These adjustments allowed us to continue serving our students while teaching essential 21st century skills as well as strengthening skills in math and reading. Families expressed that during this time, SHINE was often their only connection to the outside world and education. Many of our families suffered from lack of equitable access to computers and technology that would allow them to keep up with distant learning. Through SHINE we were able to provide packets and phone calls to continue with the students learning. By providing resources they were able to meet essential needs such as lack of diapers, supplies and food. Our families expressed the continued need for out of school programming and afterschool programs especially to those with less resources. We provided adult education classes to our families through a partnership with Penn State. This allowed them to strengthen the skills needed for remote and at home work.

WP SHINE is administered through the WP Workforce Alliance and SHINE WP was modeled after the Lehigh Carbon Community College Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE Program.

By: Pantea Shademani, Program Director, SHINE Wayne Pike

Learn more about SHINE Wayne Pike at:

Wellness 101 Show Quick Tip - Wash Your hands

CSLWP STEM Ecosystem

Cultivating STEM Learning and Workforce Preparation