With close to 50 partners, the Illinois Science and Technology Institute commits to piloting the Research and Development (R&D) STEM Learning Exchange in fifteen area high schools, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.
The pilot year will focus on implementing three key initiatives: STEM challenges, electronic mentor matching, and creating a virtual repository of standards-aligned learning content. These initiatives are designed to expand inquiry-based and hands-on learning experiences for students related to research and development, as well as science, engineering, technology and math.
Through industry sponsored challenges, students will work in interdisciplinary teams to engage in critical real-world industry problems. Corporate employees have the opportunity to engage with the next-generation of industry professionals in meaningful ways.
The R&D STEM Learning Exchange has developed an online platform which will allow students to be paired with industry and university mentors, and engage in virtual mentoring to play an integral role in student research experiences. This program eliminates geographic barriers, and keeps the teacher at the hub of the mentoring relationship.
Finally, the Learning Exchange will create a virtual repository of existing programs and resources for teachers, students and their families, focused on hands-on learning. This helps to aggregate and expand the reach of the excellent work being done around STEM education, and make it accessible to a greater community.
Through the public-private approach of the Learning Exchange, companies are able to address talent pipeline needs in critical industry sectors, students gain access to new tools and programs, and the statewide community around STEM education is strengthened to continue developing the next generation of innovators.
ISTI will officially begin implementing the R&D STEM Learning Exchange in 15 pilot schools beginning in September 2013 to coincide with the new school year. The following pilot high schools represent a wide variety of students, including demographic and economic diversity, as well as different geographic areas in the state of Illinois.
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Vocational Career Academy - Chicago, IL
Lane Tech High School - Chicago, IL
Lindblom Math and Science Academy - Chicago, IL
Muchin College Prep - Chicago, IL
Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy - Chicago, IL
Illinois Math and Science Academy - Aurora, IL
Hinsdale Central High School - Hinsdale, IL
Niles Township High Schools - Niles, IL
Wheeling High School - Wheeling, IL
Palatine High School - Palatine, IL
Oak Park River Forest High School - Oak Park, IL
Waukegan High School - Waukegan, IL
Thornton High School - Harvey, IL
Peoria-area High School - Peoria, IL
July 2013: Finalize work plans for each of the 15 pilot schools
Summer and Fall 2013: Finalize challenge opportunities
September 2013: Teachers engage in one-day professional development related to using the tools of the Learning Exchange and inquiry based learning. Schools also begin using tools.
Fall 2013: Tools of the R&D STEM Learning Exchange are made available to pilot schools
January 2014: Schools kick-off STEM challenges
May-June 2014: Culminating challenge event
July 2014: Evaluation of pilot year, continued sustainability planning
This commitment seeks to expand opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for Illinois students through both the creation of new hands-on learning tools and the expansion of existing programs and resources. Illinois will have 320,000 job openings in STEM fields by 2018, but not enough students are graduating with degrees in STEM fields to meet this coming demand. Illinois also has $12.5 billion in research and development (R&D) investment through businesses, universities and federal laboratories. This presents an opportunity to take action by working with companies, universities, high schools, and government partners to bring students real-world opportunities around STEM learning and careers.
The R&D STEM Learning Exchange is seeking new partners to join the STEM coalition. Partners can provide STEM mentors, work with high school students on a problem based learning real-world challenge, or partner with the Exchange to help implement and measure key initiatives. Currently, over 60 partner organizations from the private, government, education, and non-profit are part of this network dedicated to building the talent pipeline of STEM innovators in Illinois.
The R&D STEM Learning Exchange has built a network of partners and expertise in the areas of STEM, student research, mentoring, and building public-private partnerships. The RDLE is offering to share best practices, partner opportunities related to the Mentor Matching or STEM Challenges, as well as topic expertise in the aforementioned areas.