This week’s guest blogger is Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition. EAST is proud to be a member of the Coalition and the work it is doing to create opportunities for students. The example that the Coalition sets through cooperative collaboration, is a model that should be the norm and not the exception.
STEM is everywhere—from the manufacturing plant to agriculture to small businesses. Every Arkansan needs a strong foundation in science and mathematics accompanied by familiarity with their applications to engineering and technology to be productive citizens and economic contributors. Some of the most rapidly expanding job prospects for young Arkansans are in the STEM fields. Researchers, computer information professionals, farmers, veterinarians, science teachers, health care workers, engineers of all sorts and other related professions are increasingly in demand to meet the needs of our state economy which is rapidly shifting to focus on information technology, advanced manufacturing and bioscience. STEM professions and occupations are among the highest paying jobs and are also the basis for a successful, globally competitive, and innovative Arkansas economy. Beyond mere employment, the daily lives of Arkansans involve increasingly frequent encounters with STEM concepts.
The Arkansas STEM Coalition is a statewide partnership of leaders from the corporate, education, government and community sectors. The purpose of the Arkansas STEM Coalition is to promote education skills that will affect Arkansas’ future workforce while supporting high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The Coalition works to increase public awareness of the importance of STEM related content knowledge and skills to enhance lives and the economy while forging partnerships with business and institutions to share valuable experience and ideas, particularly in STEM careers.
Businesses who partner with the Arkansas STEM Coalition gain visibility and input into future STEM educational initiatives within the Arkansas education system. For students seeking STEM Careers, this can ultimately lead to a better quality post-secondary education, internships, summer and full-time employment, and promising business relationships.
The Arkansas STEM Coalition advocates that only by working together on challenges of scale (focusing resources on STEM), innovation (creating a climate of entrepreneurship), replication (giving all Arkansans access to best educational practices), evaluation (assuring that what we do works), and cooperation (more teaming, less competing) will we create increased opportunity in STEM. The STEM Coalition also advocates the recruitment and retention of highly effective STEM teachers in order to promote student interest and performance in all phases of learning. Programs such as EAST provide students with problem-based learning that sparks their problem solving abilities, technological inquisitiveness, creativity and interest in STEM. In addition, the Arkansas STEM Coalition provides a rewarding experience for businesses concerned for a future work force that brings economic prosperity to Arkansas.
The window for students’ receptivity to STEM topics closes early, sometimes as early as middle school. A solution to the Arkansas STEM pipeline problem is to take action given known gender and ethnicity differences in STEM education. Early identification and mentoring by parents, families, civic groups, teachers and businesses can encourage early STEM success by students. If you are interested in solving the problems of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in Arkansas, we invite you to join the Arkansas STEM Coalition. Contact Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, Executive Director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As anyone who has kept up this blog (or EAST in general) knows, we are committed to the type of innovation and collaboration that Dr. Mitchell pursues every day. Future opportunities for our students…indeed, the very future depends on it. It’s good to know that there are people as decent and hard-working as Dr. Mitchell leading the way.
Until next time.