Business Supports Science Education and the Framework

In September Commissioner Bowen announced Maine’s role as a Lead State with Achieve in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. At the press conference Old Town Fuel and Fiber, representing Maine’ business community, described the need for effective science education in Maine. More recently, Texas Instrument (TI) in South Portland, Maine, (formerly National Semiconductor) demonstrated its support for science education and STEM.  On November 3, 2011 TI awarded the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) $50,000 to support GMRI in offering 10,000 students throughout Maine a unique science experience. At the same time TI made two additional announcements.  In the spring of 2012 TI will offer nationally a one Million dollar grant opportunity to support STEM education.  TI also announced that Ann Gauthier will serve as a member of Maine’s Leadership Team in the development of Next Generation Science Standards.  These actions reflect the importance of science and STEM education to our business community and to Maine’s economy.

The message that STEM education is important to Maine was also shared at the Maine School Management Association meeting in October.  Andy Anderson (Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Health at the University of Southern Maine) and Michele Mailhot (Maine Department of Education Mathematics Specialist) delivered a session on STEM Education and Maine’s STEM pipeline. Andy and Michele offered statistics on Maine STEM career pathways and outlined the current pressures to produce qualified individuals to fill existing jobs in the State’s STEM pipeline.   They talked about strategies already in place and steps needed to further support the development of STEM skills K-16. Andy and Michele’s session also highlighted the National Academy report Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  This short report describes models for K-12 STEM programming and actions that schools and districts should take to support STEM learning. It is clear that businesses, schools, and communities must work together to ensure that students have access to effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Strong science education is one key component of STEM education and A Framework for K-12 Science Education can help us to clarify our vision for science education in Maine.  To support this effort, I am expanding the SciTech Framework blog to serve a central location for resources related to the implementation of  A Framework for K-12 Science Education and, as they are developed, for tools to support our anticipated adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards. New pages are under development to host webinars and other resources that will support us. The good work we have done in science education over that last 20 years poises us to take this new opportunity to deepen our understanding of teaching and learning in science and technology. The Maine Science Teachers Association (MSTA) is collaborating with the Department of Education to host regional Dine and Discuss events to provide information about A Framework for K-12 Science Education. MSTA expects to host two and a half hour events at over a dozen locations around the State during December and January.  MSTA will charge a five dollar registration fee to cover the cost of refreshments and will provide a free year-long MSTA membership to all participants.  I will have more information for you soon about the dates and locations!

If you haven’t already done so, download the Framework today. I think you will like what you see.