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STEM Action Center

Check out the website to find out more about STEM in Utah!

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Action Center prioritizes STEM education, which works to develop Utah’s workforce of the future.

The program drives research and implementation of STEM education best practices across Utah by coordinating STEM-related activities, creating and supporting STEM education, facilitating educator access to education tools, and aligning public STEM education with higher-education STEM activities. In order to advance STEM initiatives, the STEM Action Center Board will use legislative funding to oversee several projects that align with K-12 education and support the Utah State Office of Education and higher education partners.

These programs address issues that support outreach, recruitment, retention and student achievement. Additionally, the STEM Action Center will align technology and innovation with industry needs and higher education initiatives to ensure development of the future workforce. This will be a safeguard to the state’s economic prosperity by ensuring there is a workforce ready to take on the high-quality and high-paying STEM related careers.

The following projects are part of the STEM Action Center’s portfolio, in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah System of Higher Education and industry:

  • Providing innovative approaches to professional development for K-12 educators
  • Creating an elementary STEM endorsement
  • Improving Career and Technical Education programming
  • Deploying digital learning math tools in K-12 classrooms
  • Supporting industry-recognized STEM certification for high school students
  • Implementing a STEM School Designation Certification for STEM schools
  • Helping educators and students engage with STEM subjects through hands-on activities

K-12 Math Initiative

The Utah State Legislature, through UCA 63M-1-3205 has provided $13.5 Million for the STEM Action Center to purchase supplemental math software for Utah classrooms. The grant is for use in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Public charter schools and school districts had the opportunity to apply for use of the math software in the summer of 2014 and are involved in a 2-year project. Grant awardees will be able to use the math technology from the approved list of ten product providers as a supplement or intervention to compliment a school’s current math curriculum. The grant program evaluation will be conducted by Utah State University, Dr. Sarah Brasiel (Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department) and the evaluation will be primarily looking at student mathematics achievement on the end of year SAGE state assessment.

Middle School Applied Science Technology

The applied science technology program targets middle school applied science, specifically 7th and 8th grade Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. Four product providers were selected to provide curriculum materials and hands on activities related to engineering, applied science, and information technology. Contracts were finalized in October and Professional Development occurred in November and December of 2014. Districts and schools are in the planning stages for implementation starting spring 2015. Currently 45,954 licenses have been distributed.

STEM Professional Learning

The STEM Action Center, working in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education, has implemented the STEM Professional Learning Project. A video-based, online platform is being used to bring high quality instruction and online professional learning communities to Utah educators. A unique feature of this professional learning opportunity lies in the fact that the program includes videos of exemplary UTAH teachers that are using best practices in their STEM instruction. The content and focus of the videos is aligned to the Utah Core in STEM to ensure sustainability. Teacher training for the use of the products is underway and reaching nearly 18,000 teachers in Utah. Implementation will begin in spring 2015 and continue through the next few years.

Elementary STEM Endorsement

There is $1.5 million in funding allocated to support teachers to participate in a newly developed STEM endorsement program, through the Utah State Office of Education. Awards have been made to Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) and districts across the state who responded to a request for proposals to develop STEM endorsement programs at their institutions to be offered to teachers. Each award
 was $100,000 per year for 2 years to serve 250-350 teachers in cohort 1. The Center will assess long
term outcomes of participation in the endorsement program on the performance of the teacher’s students on the SAGE state assessment beginning with data from the 2015-16 school year.

STEM Schools Designation

The Utah STEM Schools Designation Program was developed to define the criteria and elements necessary for a school to create a comprehensive STEM learning environment for their students. The STEM schools designation program will allow schools to engage in discussions with faculty and community partners around STEM education as a lens for strong instruction for students to prepare

High School STEM Certification

It is becoming critical for students to gain early opportunities to education in key STEM occupations. Students need access to education that helps them to gain early employment and companies are in desperate need for STEM talent. The High School STEM Certification Program provides resources to schools and districts to create new or expand capacity on existing STEM certification pathways that address high demand STEM jobs in their communities. These certifications can include resources such as much-needed equipment or supplies, support for the creation of new curriculum materials and activities that support hands-on, engaged instruction, support for internships and professional development for educators to enhance instruction in these new or existing certification pathways.

STEM Fairs, Camps and Competitions

The STEM Action Center helped to increase student participation in fairs, camps and competitions to support STEM education and economic growth in Utah.

Participation in these activities has been a vital component in motivating and assisting students into STEM career pathways. Our office awarded $400,000 in post-performance grants to K-12 Utah students who detailed their participation in any STEM fair, camp or competition in Utah.

Approximately 2,500 students were impacted this year and the Center reached students from more than 100 different Utah schools.

STEM Classroom Grant

This PreK-12 Classroom Grant was created to support educator creativity while teaching the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Awards are granted to innovative and creative projects that improve student understanding and learning experience. In fiscal year 2015, the STEM Action Center awarded $160,000 to Utah classrooms that will impact more than 28,000 students.

Industry Engagement

A critical component of the STEM Action Center’s strategic plan is to increase industry engagement. The Center has promoted industry involvement within STEM programs and has been actively involved in the STEM media and marketing campaign. The campaign is a partnership with Comcast and numerous private companies to help “change the hearts and minds” of the community.

Since the launch of the STEM Utah media campaign in January 2014 this group has committed a total of $2,613,885 in cash, products and services.

The STEM Action Center is currently working with industry to build a website and phone application called STEM Match. The application gives teachers and industry the ability to easily connect to each other. Teachers will be able to access industry to help them with STEM-related projects (i.e. helping to teach a difficult STEM subject in the classroom, garnering industry participation in STEM events, fairs and competitions, mentoring educators on STEM subjects etc.).

Marketing STEM Across the State

The STEM Action Center has worked in numerous ways to grow STEM across the state; including building a robust website, participating and sponsoring numerous STEM-related events, and targeting STEM audiences through email marketing & strategic social media engagement.

The STEM Action Center website is the state’s STEM hub. Events, news and STEM opportunities shared with the STEM Action Center by educators and industry are consistently shared on the website. Information on grant opportunities and engaging STEM videos are also available on the website.

The STEM Action Center has participated in numerous events across the state and has sponsored close to a dozen. Events directly related to the STEM Action Center include:

  • STEM Utah Corporate Soccer Tournament: Industry participated in a soccer tournament on September 22 in a joint effort to support marketing the study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to Utah’s school population.
  • STEM Statewide School Assembly Broadcast: The Utah STEM Coalition hosted a school assembly designed to inspire students on the value of STEM education. The event was broadcasted statewide. Three hundred attended the event at Olympus High School and several thousand students were able to watch the broadcast from their classroom on October 21.
  • Utah STEM Fest: The Center partnered with Utah’s Industry to put on the first statewide STEM Fest from March 25-27 at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center. More than 15,000 seventh and eighth graders through out the state attended. The event was opened to the public on Friday evening with approximately 4,000 additional attendees.
  • STEM Innovation Awards: With more than 400 industry leaders and government officials in attendance, the STEM Action Center held their first STEM Innovation Awards in partnership with Utah Technology Council at their annual Utah Innovation Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 30, 2015.
  • STEM Best Practices Conference: The Utah STEM Action Center held a STEM Best Practices Conference from June 22-23 at Thanksgiving Point’s Garden Center with more than 200 educators and industry members in attendance.

The STEM Action Center Board for 2014-15 was comprised of:

  • Jeffery R. Nelson, President and CEO, Nelson Laboratories, Chairman
  • Val Hale, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Vice Chair
  • Robert Brems, President, Utah College of Applied Technology
  • Blair Carruth, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs, Utah System of Higher Education
  • Norm LeClair, Chief, Workforce Development Branch, Hill Air Force Base
  • Gene Levinzon, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
  • Stan Lockhart, Government Affairs Manager, IM Flash Technologies
  • Brad Smith, Superintendent, State Board of Education
  • Richard Nelson, President and CEO, Utah Technology Council
  • Tami Pyfer, Director of Education, Governor’s Office
  • Bert VanderHeiden,Vice President of Aerospace Structures, ATK
  • Reza Jalili, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Marketing, Adobe
  • Mark Huntsman, Senior Vice President, Sunrise Engineering, Inc., Utah State Board of Education Member