Eric Meyer is Assistant Director of Education at the Fleet Science Center and part of the San Diego Ecosystem
In addition to the standard profiles of STEM leaders, this month we also asked for a summary of thoughts on the spring 2018 national STEM Learning Ecosystems convening. Eric’s insights and profile follow.
The combination of the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference with the STEM Ecosystem Community of Practice was useful to me because it combined the opportunity to hear about initiatives that are working in specific locations and the ability to think about how those concepts could be applied more broadly and systemically. Knowing of large corporate partners and universities implementing and advocating for this work provides examples to share with and motivate local organizations interested in similar initiatives.
The earn and learn models were particularly interesting as companies identified the need to invest in apprentice schools and community colleges to train their own workforce. Company Return on Investment was linked to upskilling workers quickly – which generates profit – and to developing internal leadership. Connections to state funding initiatives and workforce development programs through community colleges were discussed as well as certification of programs through individual businesses or industry associations.
From the educator perspective, there were interesting discussions regarding the fluencies needed by learners and how they could be honed through integrated experiences in the classroom and the “real world.” The argument was made that learners would need tech literacy, data literacy, and human literacy – how to interact with machines, how to interpret and use data, and how to be creative, empathetic, innovative, culturally agile, global, ethical, entrepreneurial, and part of a team.
1. What’s your background?
I started my career as a wildlife biologist studying birds of prey – migration, nesting, wintering, and population trends, then moved into broader range of wildlife and some archaeology (if you can spot a bird you can spot a sherd!). I worked in Community-based Natural Resource Management as Peace Corps Volunteer and Informal Science Education as museum professional.
2. What drew you to work in the STEM education field?
I have a deep and personal commitment to equity and respect for people and the planet. I believe that STEM education is the truest path to developing more global citizens.
3. What are you working on for the future for the Ecosystem?
The San Diego STEM Ecosystem is focusing on building out networks of community STEM engagement. We know that there is great work happening all over the County of San Diego, and we are working to activate existing networks to bring awareness and audience as well as to build strategic coalitions of resource partners.
Strengthened networks will hopefully lead to a greater focus on strategic approaches in planning and facilitating neighborhood STEM learning opportunities and ultimately produce a culture of collaboration, with fewer overlaps and gaps in service.
4. What do think can be accomplished within the framework of the Ecosystems that can’t be done (or is more difficult) without it?
By recognizing that the 42 school districts in San Diego are each using different systems to meet the varying in-school needs during the 5% of life that is spent learning in school, the San Diego STEM Ecosystem is working to ensure the other 95% of learning is also connected and optimized for supporting STEM learning.
5. Who was a role model for you when you were younger? Favorite teacher?
My first science love was Jacques Cousteau. His curiosity and concern for the earth were a regular part of my early life. One of my favorite teachers was Dr. Doyle McKey. He rescued a struggling wildlife biology student surrounded by pre-Med students through a tropical field biology course and his love of plant-insect interactions.
Congratulations to Eric on his selection as a Fellow in the LEAD STEM program.