Laying the Foundation: Improving K-12 STEM Education

Making STEM Matter: The Value of Experiential Learning and Grand Challenges

Many schools across the country are trying to appeal to women and minority students by focusing on projects with strong real-world connections – biomedical engineers building health care devices for low-income communities, for instance, or computer science students addressing environmental concerns through innovative software or apps. Hear from several schools that have found success in enrolling and engaging more underrepresented students by integrating service and hands-on inquiry-based learning into their curricula.

Recruiting and Retaining Top-Notch STEM Teachers in K-12

The U.S. has a big problem when it comes to STEM teachers: It desperately needs them in math, science, chemistry, physics and physical science – and it is also critically short in CTE areas and technology education. Since 2012, the federal government has emphasized building a STEM master teacher corps and recruiting and training an additional 100,000 STEM teachers over the next several years. From recruiting new teachers from industry to providing incentives for them to serve in high-need communities, this panel will highlight teacher prep programs that are working to up the ranks of qualified STEM teachers nationwide.

Technology in the Classroom: Personalized Learning Tools

Sophisticated technology and innovative teaching methods are transforming schools across the country. By “flipping” classrooms, using blended and project-based learning, and more, educators are personalizing lessons like never before. Such individualized instruction has demonstrated enormous potential to close the learning gap as well as foster strong teacher/student relationships and allow students to work – and succeed – at their own pace. Learn firsthand from several teachers and schools that have employed such innovative teaching techniques to boost STEM engagement and achievement.

Building Engineering Skills Into K-12 Curricula

Can engineering skills be integrated earlier into pre-K-12 education – and should they be? Many STEM advocates say yes, and educators across the country are working to implement engineering education in classrooms and out-of-school settings. Businesses and colleges are also partnering with schools to inject hands-on engineering lessons into the K-12 arena. See what’s working at several schools and programs with project-based learning and other effective engineering instruction techniques.

Enhancing Professional Development for Classroom Teachers

New standards. New assessments. New industries. New discoveries. New skills. The rapid pace of change and constant innovation makes it hard for teachers to stay up-to-date and teach the latest and greatest in STEM, which is where professional development comes into play. From intensive workshops and summer institutes to regular training and support, professional development takes many forms. This session will showcase professional development programs that help teachers on the front lines provide students with a comprehensive, high-quality STEM education.

Tomorrow’s High School: Preparing Students for an Innovative, Tech-Driven Economy

From early college and dual enrollment opportunities to specialized STEM magnet programs, high schools are reshaping their curricula to give students access to proper skills training, hands-on internships, and pipeline programs into in-demand jobs with local employers. Explore what several innovative schools are doing to ensure that their students are college-bound and workforce-ready.

Behind California’s New Science Framework

In November, California adopted a new science framework for the state’s public schools, which will significantly revamp the science curriculum for more than 6 million students. Incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards, the new framework will guide administrators, teachers, and curriculum developers on topics such as environmental literacy and engineering, and new science tests will be piloted beginning this spring. Get an inside look at the impact and implementation of the new framework.


Higher Ed: How Colleges Are Making a Difference

Bridging the STEM Diversity Gap in College

The way STEM is taught at the college level offers both a major opportunity and a precarious challenge for students in the field. Many high-impact practices, including living-learning communities, research and internship opportunities, and peer and faculty mentoring, have been shown to increase undergraduate interest and engagement with STEM. But weed-out courses, unconscious gender bias, and a lack of meaningful hands-on opportunities can also quickly discourage undergrads, particularly women and students of color. This session will explore several programs that are working to turn the tide and increase recruitment and retention of STEM students at the college level.

How Community Colleges Are Making a Difference for the Underserved

The traditional organization of the community college academic system, in which students choose a department and courses from a menu that leads to a degree, is beginning to be replaced with “pathways” that lead to a career. The route from high school or the job market is much more intentional than in the usual setup, with developmental work often integrated into more meaningful preparation and allowing students to gain stackable credentials that provide entree to specific fields or culminate in an associate degrees or transfer to a four-year school. Gain insight and get a status report from institutions that have made the switch.

An Inside Look at Internships and Earn-As-You-Learn Programs

Advocates agree that hands-on engagement in the STEM fields is critical. Community colleges and universities are working with companies to place qualified students in internships and apprenticeships. Such experiences are valuable ways to expose young people to the reality of the STEM workplace and to mentors who might be able to guide their own career trajectories. Several hands-on pioneers in STEM internships and apprenticeships will share what makes a good program.


Skills for Tomorrow: Building a STEM-Savvy Workforce

The Middle-Skill Opportunity: A Blueprint for Job Growth

From computer support specialists to mechanical and medical technicians, many of today’s jobs in computing, advanced manufacturing, and other growth industries require more training than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. Plus, apprenticeships are rapidly gaining steam nationwide to directly give participants hands-on work experiences while they learn skills necessary for these and other jobs. This session will examine the variety of opportunities available, and several educators and employers will discuss promising programs and effective strategies that help professionals young and old get trained and get hired.

How Companies Are Strategizing STEM for the Long Term

The business community has emerged as a vocal champion of STEM, and CEOs are sounding the alarm that the rest of the country needs to start paying attention as technology transforms the economy and the day-to-day life of the average worker. Corporations are investing heavily in classroom technology, informal learning, teacher prep programs and other initiatives, both directly and through their foundations. At the same time, many are mobilizing their workforces to mentor aspiring engineers, for example, or science and math students. This session will feature insight from several corporate leaders who have made great strides in tackling STEM pipeline issues.

Successfully “Upskilling” Your Workforce

While recruiting new workers with strong STEM skills is a major priority for many companies, retraining existing employees with specific science, math, and tech skills is also proving to be an effective workforce development strategy. “Upskilling” through competency-based education, robust professional development programs, and other techniques is providing employees with a successful pathway into higher-skilled jobs. According to UpSkill America, some 24 million workers in the U.S. “face little to no upward career mobility,” and investing in these workers is proving to be a boon for firms. Hear from employers who are tapping into the upskilling technique to address their respective skill gaps.

Remaking Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century

Career and technical education programs hold a lot of promise in today’s STEM economy, with many federal and state policymakers investing heavily in such partnerships between the education and business communities. In recent years, CTE programs have developed and refined a set of “career clusters,” designed to equip participants with specific skills for specific jobs in advanced manufacturing, IT and other fields. This session will review CTE efforts that are making a difference in preparing the next generation of STEM employees.

The Advanced Manufacturing Wave

Millions of manufacturing jobs will be in-demand over the next decade, but most manufacturing executives already report that they lack workers with the key computer and technical skills. Indeed, jobs in advanced manufacturing will require high-level skills in IT, software, and automation, among others, so employers are putting a premium on new recruits with these abilities and implementing workforce training programs for their current professionals. Share lessons learned and explore the growing demand in advanced manufacturing with employers intent on maintaining a tech-savvy factory floor.

The Service Edge: Connecting Veterans With STEM Careers

Many companies are looking to veterans to help fill their STEM jobs shortages – particularly since many of them have easily transferable skills. In San Diego, with its heavy population of Navy service members and veterans, several organizations, companies, and universities are helping equip former military men and women with the STEM skills they need for STEM careers. Hear from veterans and advocates about these programs and what works to transition from the military to an in-demand STEM job.

The Next Generation of Work

It’s official: The future is here. From virtual reality, nanotechnology, and data analytics to biotechnology, cybersecurity, and automated intelligence, tomorrow’s jobs call for workers with extensive and sophisticated skill sets. Join local employers and recruiters as they take stock of the skills and attributes they foresee needing most in the future and how they plan to meet that demand.

Spotlight on High-Need Healthcare Jobs

As San Diego becomes an epicenter for healthcare, the need for health jobs is rapidly expanding. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 jobs in San Diego County are in the health industry – a number that only continues to grow each year, according to a recent report from the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Several major healthcare players will share their perspectives on how to create a strong healthcare workforce and ensure no high-need jobs go unfilled.


On the Policy Front: The Government Role

A Look at the New Administration’s STEM Strategy

A new administration is settling in to Washington, with many questions about how it will address STEM issues like recruiting more teachers, funding career and technical education, incentivizing strategic partnerships, the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and more. Our panelists will provide an update on these and other federal education and workforce initiatives in STEM.


Inspiring Minds: Expanding Equity and Access

Lessons From Superb STEM Mentors

Mentoring matters, and it matters a lot. Numerous studies have found that students who have had a mentor-mentee relationship were far more likely to succeed than students who lacked such guidance. In fact, students with mentors not only had more positive outcomes in school and career, but were overall happier and healthier. Fortunately, the push for STEM mentors is growing. Our panelists will share what they’ve learned as mentors and offer tips on how to build a successful mentorship program.

Sparking Girls’ Interest in STEM

Research shows that many girls lose interest in STEM in middle and high school, and even those who start college eager to major in the field don’t stick with it. One recent study found that women are 1.5 times more likely to drop out of STEM fields after Calculus I than men, while other findings demonstrate conscious and subconscious bias as having a dramatic effect on female students and employees engaging and advancing in the fields. Several experts will share their insight and advice for how to bring more women into the fold.

Informal Learning: Making STEM Come Alive

For many students, activities like science fairs, robotics competitions, hackathons, and math Olympiads are their gateways into STEM and a chance for them to develop the critical-thinking, teamwork, and technical skills that are vital to STEM. Effective out-of-school programs can take many forms, but a number of tried and true techniques have emerged as best practices, including partnerships with industry, mentoring, and building cohorts. This session will zero in on extracurricular programs that are making a difference for students across the country in their STEM learning.

Full STEAM Ahead: Bringing Arts Into the Fold

In classrooms, museums, and elsewhere, STEAM is gaining traction. Many STEM advocates say the movement can be enhanced by embracing the arts and adding an A to the acronym, particularly in an effort to boost awareness and interest. And new education standards have been designed to allow lessons in English classes to inform what students are learning in math and science. Hear from STEAM proponents about programs that are making real gains in enhancing science and math inspiration and instruction.

Inspiring a Child’s Inner Scientist: Strategies for Parents

According to a 2016 ASQ/Harris Poll survey, 90 percent of parents asked say they would encourage their children to pursue a STEM career. But far fewer high school graduates report an interest in a STEM major or career. How can we tap the potential of parents as STEM advocates, particularly for young women and students of color? This session will feature advice and tips for parents looking to ignite the STEM spark in their children.

Batter Up: The Science of Sports

Sports are a promising avenue for building excitement about STEM. A number of professional athletes have touted the value of computer science and other STEM skills, while teams and sports league have supported education efforts related to science and math. Learn about several initiatives that are integrating science and sports, inside and outside the classroom.


Collective Impact: A Community Blueprint

Connecting Your Business With Local Colleges and Universities on STEM

Employer-educator partnerships are a key driver in improving STEM education and workforce development. Many companies are even working with schools to embed lessons that train students on the precise skills that they are looking for in new hires. But how do such joint efforts come together, and what makes a mutually beneficial partnership? Firms might find common ground with two- and four-year institutions by funding research, aligning curricula, and looking to growing fields for opportunities. Get an inside look at several longstanding partnerships that are moving the needle in driving STEM engagement.

Building an Effective Partnership Between Your Company and Local Schools

Businesses are doing more than just offering scholarships and donating textbooks to bolster STEM students. From investing in early college high schools to hands-on internship programs to mentorship programs, corporations are playing a crucial role in making STEM come alive in classrooms across the country. This session will feature several successful partnerships between K-12 schools and companies.

Creating a STEM Volunteer Program for Your Employees

Sending STEM professionals into K-12 schools to get involved with science and engineering programs has proven to be an effective strategy to boost STEM interest in younger people. But how do these partnerships typically work, and how can firms get their workers to buy in? Gain insight from several companies and associations that have found success in developing volunteer programs for their staffs, including how to identify potential school partners and how to establish long-lasting mentoring relationships that make volunteers feel like they are making a difference.

Tapping Professional Associations in STEM

Science and tech professional organizations are taking a leading role in addressing some of the major challenges facing STEM, from recruiting more skilled workers in key industries to boosting diversity across the field. Through partnerships with employers and educators, scholarships and fellowships, research, annual conferences and regionalized events, and other work, groups are making great strides in bringing together a wide range of STEM stakeholders. Come hear from several organizations that are making inroads in strengthening STEM education and workforce development.

Showcasing Your STEM Program: What Foundations Value

Focused goals and measurable results are the secrets to any successful STEM program – and are key to convincing philanthropies and corporate foundations to fund your effort. STEM donors have invested millions in specific math, science, and tech programs for students and teachers, in and out of school. In this session, several philanthropic leaders will share what they look for in funding strong STEM programs and advice on how to craft compelling funding requests.