A challenge that STEM education presents to educators is how to stay current in an ever-evolving field to accurately represent and engage their students with new topics, activities, and careers. Too often STEM teachers become locked-in on a set of topics, activities, and careers because of the resources and opportunities to which they have access. After-school programs, and their ability to foster partnerships within a school’s larger STEM ecosystem, are one mechanism to open up STEM programs within schools to new topics, activities, and careers while offering avenues for professional growth and learning for the classroom teacher.
By introducing the Science Olympiad program and the strategies used by our school participants for over three decades to build partnerships, connect to their STEM ecosystem, and expand learning we intend to help attendees draw parallels to their STEM ecosystems and their after-school programs. Building off of this information, attendees will analyze and discuss ways their STEM ecosystem can contribute to their STEM program, develop approaches for asking ecosystem members for support, and recognize opportunities to grow their STEM program through after-school programs. The session will close with a discussion of attendees’ specific challenges and issues ensuring attendees leave with actionable solutions.
The big takeaway from this session will attendees examining their STEM ecosystem to identify potential partners who align with their programming and can support student learning.
John Loehr (Science Olympiad: Oakbrook Terrace, IL)