Oregon K-12 teachers go “back to school” with business leaders this week to help students excel in science and math

Aug 04, 2014
45 Oregon teachers begin 4 days of intense work on strategies to get them engaged in the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including this Wednesday, Aug. 6, engaging with business leaders to learn how STEM is used in the “real world.”

What does it take to make Oregon’s K-12 students excel in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)? Exciting and relevant curriculum, engaging teachers and approaches, and an understanding of how lessons in the classroom translate into success in college and the work force. This is what 45 Oregon teachers are working toward starting today as they switch roles as “students” in an intensive 4-day training held at Tualatin High School, which includes collaborating directly with their students’ future employers.

Created by the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership and funded through a grant from the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Education Investment Board, the professional development program includes Wednesday’s STEM Fair, which brings more than 15 STEM businesses, nonprofits and community resource groups in to demonstrate “real world” applications for the curriculum delivered to students. Teachers will meet directly with business professionals to help them understand in practice what it takes to prepare students for in-demand, high paying jobs in their future. The business professionals will in turn learn about the challenges that teachers face in nurturing students’ exploration and interest in STEM.

“The STEM Fair will help teachers answer the age old question we frequently hear from students: how is this lesson relevant to real life and will I ever really use it?” said Jill Hubbard, the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership Network Director and a Tualatin High School teacher. “The STEM Fair is an opportunity for teachers to see math and science concepts in action, so they can show their students that calculus does have a place in many career fields, whether you are an engineer, a veterinarian or a journalist.”

Participating rural and urban school districts include: 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 participating teachers from these districts will create a communication plan to share lesson plans with fellow teachers and administrators, and demonstrate what they're doing as STEM leaders in their districts to help students succeed.

“Learning needs to be in ‘3D’,” said Craig Hudson, design engineer and team leader at Garmin. “Teachers and students alike need to connect math and science concepts to problem solving. Every day engineers are solving very complex puzzles that rely on how math and science support and create technology. I’m excited to help bridge the gap between concept and application, because teachers need real world examples to help engage their students.”

Besides Garmin, participants in the STEM Fair include a diverse mix of large and small, corporate and nonprofit organizations, to give students a feel for the variety of applications in which their STEM skills can be used in “real life.” Companies include: ADP, Adopt a Farmer, Audubon Society, Autodesk, Cornell Pumps, Daimler, FLIR, Google, OpenFabPDX, PGE, Silicon Forest Electronics, Solar City, Vernier, and WebMD.

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. For more information, contact Melissa Dubois, SMS STEM Hub Director, at melissa.dubois@oit.edu or www.oit.edu/stem or www.stemoregon.org.

Connect with “STEM Oregon” on Facebook and Twitter

About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is the only public 4-year institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides 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 Tech.

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