Wanted: Your Time & Expertise
The business community can collectively make an enormous impact on Arizona education if individual businesses contribute even modest amounts of time.
Potential contributions include:
- Hosting field trips to your company
- Hosting teachers and students at existing industry events, tours
- Providing career advice and guidance
- Mentoring students and teachers
- Sharing work experience in classrooms
- Developing real-world projects for students and engage them in classrooms/STEM Clubs
- Coaching a student team (First Robotics, Science Olympiad, Math Counts, etc.)
- Attending Career Fairs (at high schools, colleges, etc.)
- Participating as a judge at science fairs
- Assigning internal coordinator of STEM activities
- Providing internships and externships
- Publicly discussing the value of STEM education
STEM Case Study: Chevron Collaborates with Tempe Union High School District
In a unique collaboration between Tempe Union HighSchool District and Chevron Energy Solutions, nearly 14,000 students across seven campuses study their own energy use and learn about sustainability in action through Envision, a unique suite of educational opportunities that translates large-scale energy projects into hands-on classroom activities centered on STEM and sustainability education.
Founded in a series of major, energy-saving retrofits across the district’s seven campuses, Chevron Energy Solutions has implemented Envision elements to enhance Internet telemetry equipment, teacher training, and Living Laboratory installation. Combined with a specialized curriculum to establish a unique showcase of innovative technology, “Living Laboratories,” acts as a holistic educational program that enables students to analyze incoming data from the district’s advanced energy technology infrastructure to study energy use, sustainability and related science in ways that make connections between their schoolwork, immediate surroundings and real global challenges.
The partnership to create the Living Labs supports the complementary goals of the district’s educators and management team: increase student engagement and learning, and increase energy efficiency. Driven in part by rising environmental concerns and energy costs that have jumped as much as 31 percent over the past decade, the $12.7 million program is designed to save the schools $18.2 million in energy costs over the next 15 years and engage students in the effort.
We believe we can make a difference, with knowledge as power,” school administrators said in a promotional video outlining the district’s overall “Go Green” initiative. “We will provide an education that prepares students who are informed about their world, aware of their purpose and responsibilities, prepared to do meaningful work to spark environmental change.”
The University of Arizona’s KEYS program (Keep Engaging Youth in Science) kicked-off a seven-week immersion program for 48 high school students in early June. The program includes working along with faculty and UA students who conduct laboratory research and it includes training in bioscience methodologies. It will conclude in mid-July when the interns will present their work in a showcase open to the public.
The KEYS program has grown steadily since it launched with nine interns seven years ago. Last year 36 students participated, so KEYS expanded 33% this year despite maintaining strict standards that include an application and interview process. This year’s 48 students were chosen from 156 applicants with an average 3.93 grade point average.
By the end of the summer, KEYS will count almost 200 students as alumni of the program. Of the graduates, who have graduated high school, most have stayed in Arizona (54% attend UA) and 83% to pursue STEM careers. The program is sustained by the community’s financial support and is pursuing an endowment going forward.
When the Altar Valley School District presented itself as a candidate for the Helios STEM School Pilot program, it underscored the potential impact of the new resources and coaching on a small community. Altar Valley is a small K-8 district located about 20 miles west of Tucson and describes itself as a “community rich with heritage and western ideals.” Its 720 students are located over 600 square miles and attend three schools in two sites.
Altar Valley was one of seven Arizona schools selected for funding from a pool of over fifty applicants for the Helios STEM School Pilot. This program developed as a result of collaboration between Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and the Helios Education Foundation. Thanks to the Helios Education Foundation grant, SFAz is helping the selected schools and districts to build integrated, rigorous and relevant science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities.
The seven pilots represent a diverse range of geographic and demographic communities from around the state, span across multiple grade levels, and represent a varied array of educational opportunities. For its part, Altar Valley plans to leverage the resources in a transformative way.
“The Helios STEM School Pilot is a game-changer for Altar Valley”, said District Superintendent Nathan McCann. “The Helios funding and SFAz’s technical support will enable us to develop and sustain an articulated pre-K through eighth grade STEM curriculum that will allow our students to engage in more hands-on and practical learning experiences.”
Altar Valley’s program focuses on developing STEM activities that will be integrated into enrichment classes for students at all grade levels in the district. Additionally, they will be providing all teachers with extensive STEM-based professional development to help expand the integration of STEM into all classes.
Two members of the SFAz team recently attended the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Conference and presented the AZ STEM Network’s STEM Immersion Guide as an example of a national best practice.
The 17-19 June conference in Austin drew more than 2,000 attendees and offered the participants an opportunity to review the state of STEM education in the United States. U.S. News announced “the mission is the same and the theme is a call to action: Teach, Inspire, Hire.” The conference covered a broad range of topics including education policy, professional development, technology, and best practices.
Dr. John Kierkard, SFAz’s Interim Director of Education, and Beth Broome, Manager of STEM Integration represented SFAz and the Arizona STEM Network. Ms. Broome presented as part of a group representing the STEMx network, which enables a national dialogue on quality STEM education tools. She introduced the STEM Immersion Guide, which offers a roadmap to establishing project-based STEM instruction, leadership development and community support. It was developed to provide practical direction to help teachers and administrators, schools and districts determine their current level of STEM implementation, define their mission and goals, and plan how their schools can go to the next level.
“The STEM Immersion Guide is a strategic framework to help educators completely integrate STEM education into their schools and districts”, said Ms. Broome, who led the SFAz team that collaborated with Maricopa County Educational Services Agency to develop the Guide. “There was quite a bit of interest in our approach as well as the content of the tool itself. It was a pleasure sharing the idea with our colleagues nationally”.