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Top Oregon companies help teachers make science, math relevant for K-12 students asking “why do I need this?”

Aug 19, 2015
Teachers able to help students understand how classroom lessons are relevant in “real life” jobs
This week, 45 Oregon teachers worked with leading Oregon businesses to create engaging, relevant lessons that students can connect to success in “real life” jobs and in college. Organized by the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership, with support from the Oregon Department of Education, Tualatin High School, and Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), the professional development program engaged K-12 teachers from 15 school districts with top Oregon companies to share resources and ideas, build valuable connections, and develop grade-specific STEM curricula.
Participating school districts in the 4-day STEM Institute included: Amity, Canby, Central, Dallas, Gladstone, Lake Oswego, Molalla River, Newberg, North Clackamas, Oregon City, Salem-Keizer, Silver Falls, Tigard- Tualatin, West Linn-Wilsonville, and Woodburn. 
“The STEM Industry Fair helps teachers answer the age old question we frequently hear from students: Why do I need to learn this? Who uses this in real-life?” said Jill Hubbard, STEM Network Director at South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership and a Tualatin High School teacher. “The Fair is an opportunity for teachers to see math and science concepts in action so they can show their students that algebra really does have a place in many career fields, whether you are an engineer, a veterinarian or a journalist.”
The STEM Fair included a diverse mix of large and small, corporate and nonprofit organizations, to give teachers a feel for the variety of applications in which these skills and concepts can be used in “real life” and in potential career paths, and share that knowledge with their students. Teachers spent the week creating STEM-based lessons to share with fellow teachers and administrators, and to demonstrate what they're doing as STEM leaders in their districts to help their students excel. Not only did the teachers benefit, but businesses and organizations learned about the challenges that educators face teaching and engaging all of Oregon’s students, including students currently underrepresented in STEM industries. 
Participating companies and organizations included: Adopt-a-Farmer, Audubon Society, Autodesk, Garmin, IBM, Intel, Lam Research, OBEC, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Health and Science University, Oregon Natural Resources Education Program, Portland Community College Makerspace, Portland General Electric, Silicon Forest Electronics, Sunset Manufacturing, and Timbercon. 
“STEM is so much more than its components:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” said Eric Meslow, President and Chief Executive Officer of Timbercon, Inc. a maker of fiber optic cables and custom fiber optic cable products in Tualatin, Oregon. “In today’s economy it is almost a forgone requirement that an employee has a strong working knowledge of STEM to be competitive. What industry often wants, and what it values most, are the critical lifelong learning and problem solving skills that students are exposed to during STEM coursework. The frequency at which industry morphs and skills sets change requires companies to form strong collaborative relationships with all levels of the educational system. It is that very system that industry dramatically depends for source of our next innovators, employees, and partners.”

About the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership
The SMS STEM Partnership is a collaborative of community leaders, representing 15 school districts, 6 higher education institutions, 11 industry partners and 9 community organizations, with a vision to catalyze Oregon students to achieve STEM degrees and certificates, and reach Oregon’s education goals by increasing the access, excitement and engagement of students in STEM courses and experiential learning. The partnership is hosted by Oregon Institute of Technology on its Wilsonville campus.  For more information, contact Melissa Dubois, SMS STEM Hub Director, at
About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is the premier public polytechnic institution in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in engineering and health technologies, management, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls and an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.
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