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National Experts: Forming STEM Ecosystems is Top Priority

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Washington, D.C., Acting on recommendations of top national education experts, the federal government earlier this month issued the “Charting A Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education,” listing participation of all Americans in STEM ecosystems as a top priority.

The federal plan, announced December 4, at the White House, says STEM ecosystems are pathways for improving STEM literacy, ensuring a strong workforce and global competitiveness for all, and an important means to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in a thriving STEM workforce.

The Cape Cod Regional STEM Network, housed at Cape Cod Community College, has already implemented the described ecosystem approach to improving STEM education and access for all, with great local success.

STEM Ecosystems, including Cape Cod Regional STEM Network unite stakeholders from a variety of community-based organizations -- including formal and after-school education, higher education, business, government, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector -- to cultivate, innovate and work for common goals and actions surrounding world-class STEM opportunities for all learners.

The federal STEM five-year strategic plan, under development for more than a year, is based on input from numerous stakeholders, including educators, business and community leaders, and representatives from all 50 states who attended a June federal STEM Summit hosted by Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) at the White House.

The plan identifies three discrete goals:

1) Building strong foundations for STEM Literacy;

2) Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM and

3) Preparing the STEM Workforce for the Future.

The plan identifies methods for achieving the goals with the formation of STEM ecosystems as the leading strategy.

These goals align closely with the work of the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network. Locally, the Ecosystem is currently partnering with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and the Blue Economy Foundation to host WaterWorks at Cape Cod Community College on January 8, 2019, to bring together high school students, college students and faculty, and the area’s top companies and organizations in a showcase of STEM at work, based in the region’s water-based Blue Economy.

“This pathway focuses on strengthening existing relationships and developing new connections between educational institutions, employers, and their communities. That means bringing together schools, colleges and universities, libraries, museums, and other community resources to build STEM ecosystems that broaden and enrich each learner’s educational and career journey,” the report says.

“We are excited that the work of the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network and other ecosystems is receiving national attention as an effective means of improving STEM access for all,” said Bridget Burger, Director of the Network. “This underscores the fact that we’ve been on the right path as we created strong ties among the schools, businesses, and community organizations here across Cape Cod and the Islands

Jan Morrison, founder and president of TIES - Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, which designed and continues to lead the STEM Learning EcosystemsSM Community of Practice and who participated in the OSTP Summit, said, “We celebrate the fifty states’ vision and brilliance in focusing this report on the great value of bringing the work of STEM to all through STEM Learning Ecosystems.”

“The design of our communities as STEM Ecosystems ensures that STEM is central to children’s education both in- and out-of-school and that it is inextricably linked to workforce and a lifetime of solving our world’s grandest of challenges.”

About the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network Ecosystem

The Cape Cod Regional STEM Network brings together educators, school districts, business and industry partners, and community members who share a commitment to inspiring and supporting young people’s interest and achievement in STEM learning and careers. Our mission is: To be an inspiration hub for tomorrow’s innovators. Through K-12 teacher professional development, student engineering design challenges, STEM Week and other events, regional robotics competitions, a STEM educator lending library, and STEM program evaluation services, the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network is a premier resource for STEM education in our region.

About STEM Learning Ecosystems

STEM Learning Ecosystems build strong collaborations in schools and beyond the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, with local business and industry partners, and in science centers, libraries and other places both virtual and physical. Ecosystems strive to enable students to connect what they learn at home, in school and out-of-school with real-world opportunities.

About TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM

TIES is dedicated to making STEM accessible to everyone, especially underserved and underrepresented learners. We do this by connecting stakeholders — educators, funders, community organizations, businesses and government agencies — who, through collaborative partnerships, create meaningful and gainful STEM learning experiences. Our team of consultants provides strategic planning support and guides design, training and implementation across all of our services.

Learn more about STEM Learning Ecosystems national initiative at stemecosystems.org. Address specific questions to info@stemecosystems.org. Join online conversations on Twitter @STEMecosystems and #STEMecosystems and on Facebook.

Learn more about TIES - Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM’s work with STEM Design, Digital Fabrication and Innovation Labs, STEM Talent, and Philanthropy and Social Impact at tiesteach.org. Join the online conversation on Twitter @tiesteach and Facebook /tiesteach.