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Business, education develop future workforce


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  • Laurie King/Maricopa County Education Service Agency

PHOENIX, AZ, December 18, 2013 — Arizona’s economy is rapidly becoming more dependent on high-tech Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals. However, many students are not exposed to professional examples of this work, and therefore are less likely to envision themselves pursuing these careers.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) a $3 million dollar Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to solve this problem.

This award was contingent upon private sector matching funds, and multiple partners have stepped up to participate in this important work.

Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Science Center, Freeport McMoRan, Helios Foundation, Intel Corporation, LearningMate Solutions, Rodel Foundation, Science Foundation Arizona and two individual contributors have collectively contributed $450,000 in cash and in-kind support to this project.

This collaborative and innovative program, titled Engineering STEM Identities, will serve approximately 2,300 students in ten Arizona school districts.

MCESA will use interactive video conferencing equipment, as well as an online learning management platform supplied by LearningMate, to provide students with authentic learning experiences that give them opportunities to envision themselves as “STEM learners and professionals.”

Mohit Bhargava, President, LearningMate said, “We believe effective learning happens in an environment that is inclusive, participative, encouraging of self-expression, immediate, grounded in civic values and supported by community participation. LearningMate is honored to partner with MCESA to help demonstrate how a technology mediated learning environment can deliver on this shared vision for STEM education in a highly accountable, data rich workflow designed to make teachers, students, administrators and communities successful.”

STEM experts from business and industry will use the interactive video conferencing equipment to virtually meet with students and teachers. By using this technology, teachers will receive high quality, professional development in the content areas of math and science. Students will be able to meet with experts in the field right in their places of work without having to travel out of their own communities.

Dr. Mark Joraanstad, Saddle Mountain Superintendent was enthusiastic about the possibilities, “Students will benefit from the opportunity to interact with their peers from schools across the state and the country on cooperative STEM projects; I can only imagine the excitement and creativity that will result from this collaboration.”

MCESA is pleased to build on Arizona STEM Network’s Collective Impact Model to create meaningful business engagement opportunities, strengthen STEM teacher effectiveness, integrate STEM into schools and districts, and develop predictive analysis and measurable STEM education outcomes. By employing this model, MCESA is confident the Engineering STEM Identities program will be both replicable and sustainable and significantly increase the number of Arizona students that pursue STEM careers.

For additional information, contactDirector of Learning and Communication Systems Laurie King at (480) 371-8402 laurie.king@mcesa.maricopa.gov