St. Louis-Area Educators Spend Summer Learning with STEMpact

STEMpact works to develop exemplary teachers who provide high impact STEM learning experiences

For the fourth year, a select group of St. Louis-area and Metro East educators will spend two weeks learning how to better teach their students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“The goal is not just to raise test scores but to foster and grow a lifelong interest in the fields, thereby establishing today’s students as the STEM leaders of tomorrow. And the method seems to be paying off,” said Deborah Holmes, project manager and facilitator for the STEM Teacher Quality (TQ) Institute. “Our external evaluator has found that teachers who participate in this program are able to help students comprehend STEM in a whole new way and that is translating to increased student comprehension and success.”

Supported by STEMpact, a unique collaboration of the area’s top STEM companies, this year’s STEM TQ will take place Monday, July 13 through Wednesday, July 24 on Washington University’s Danforth Campus. The 2015 STEM TQ includes nearly 170 participants, up from 106 last year, and there’s a waitlist of more than 20 educators. This year’s participating school districts include Affton, East-St. Louis, Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Hillsboro, Jennings, Kirkwood, Mehlville, Normandy, Pattonville, Rockwood, St. Charles, St. Louis Language Immersion, University City, Webster Groves, and Wenztville. The St. Louis YMCA is also participating. Half of this year’s participating school districts are brand new to the program.

“This program isn’t just for underserved schools. It’s for everyone,” said STEMpact board member Jeffrey Whitford with Sigma-Aldrich. “We have districts like Pattonville and Rockwood eager to participate. An educator from MICDS just asked to be on our waitlist. That speaks volumes about the reputation that STEM TQ is establishing for itself in St. Louis.”

During the intense two weeks, STEMpact facilitators and educators work with kindergarten to eighth grade teachers in day-long sessions that include hands-on learning during classroom-style presentations, investigations, and field trips. The goal is to show participants how to more effectively make STEM connections in their classrooms.

Following STEM TQ, STEMpact provides additional training during three professional development days and six after-school development sessions throughout the school year. The participating teachers and their students are evaluated by an external evaluator and the results continue to show that the program is making a difference.

“We’ve seen enthusiasm, understanding and student achievement increase in our local schools because of this program,” said Holmes.

According to a quantitative evaluation summary executed by STEMpact, in 2014 all STEM TQ fifth and eighth grade science classrooms out-performed non-participating classrooms. In math, reports show STEM TQ students out-performing non-participating students by at least 22 index points.

“The analysis and feedback shows that teachers are excited to teach STEM and that enthusiasm is being passed on to their students,” said STEMpact board member Sarah Kramer of Peabody Energy. “Peabody Energy is very excited to be supporting this program for the fourth year because it really is helping students do better in school and possibly lead them to a fruitful career path.”

STEMpact is a local collaborative partnership made up of representatives from the area’s top STEM companies and funded by Ameren Missouri, AT&T Aspire, Bank of America, Boeing, Emerson, Express Scripts Foundation, The Laclede Group, Inc.; Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Manifest Digital, Maritz, MasterCard, McDonnell Family Foundation, Monsanto Fund, Peabody Energy, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, and Washington University Institute for School Partnership.

STEM TQ and its year-long follow-up programs cost about $3,200 per teacher but is free to participants thanks to the STEMpact partnership. Companies involved in STEMpact see the program as a way to inspire children, increase students’ critical thinking skills and, perhaps someday, have them build their careers in St. Louis. To accommodate more teachers this year, some school district offered contributions to the program.

“Professional opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math continue to grow, and will be a source of long-term economic growth for the region," said STEMpact board member Danny Sherling of Sigma-Aldrich. “We’re investing in this program because we recognize that St. Louis area teachers play an integral part in preparing the STEM professionals of tomorrow."

About STEMpact

STEMpact is a unique ongoing collaboration of the St. Louis area’s top STEM companies providing education and resources for teachers and school district to help STEM education thrive in the St. Louis region. The group’s mission statement is “prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s STEM professional”. For more information about STEMpact and to see what this year’s STEM Teacher Quality Institute participants are learning, visit or follow STEMpactSTL on Twitter.

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Categories: Engineering, Information Technology, Public Schools

Tags: Education, Engineering, Math, Science, STEM, Technology

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