Ecosystem Spotlight: Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

Ecosystem Spotlight: Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub building local STEM programs with AT&T Aspire grant and involvement of business leaders

The Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub is a not-for-profit entity dedicated to accelerating the growth of STEM initiatives (and measured outcomes) in the Northeast Florida region.

The STEM2 Hub was awarded a $40,000 Aspire Grant from AT&T earlier this year to implement science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming in schools across the seven-county area it serves. AT&T is committed to systematic improvement in K-12 education, and to helping educators blaze an innovative trail leading to a robust pipeline of STEM-ready high school graduates. Some of that work will now take place in the Jacksonville, in conjunction with the Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub.

One of the programs, the STEM Bicycle Club, is being modeled after a successful program implemented by the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, an example of best practices being shared through the STEM Learning Ecosystem Initiative.

Here’s an overview of the work being funded by the grant:

 STEM Bicycle Club

Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub’s STEM Bicycle Club will launch at seven Putnam County schools this fall through their new 21st Century Community Learning Center programs. Students will participate in project-based learning experiences through which STEM skills and the engineering design process are modeled, as they break down and reassemble a bicycle, solving problems and discovering math and science principles at work.

“We are exceptionally proud to share the good news that through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Putnam County families will have new and affordable opportunities for academically enriching after-school activities. This is one more way we can work together to set our students on course for successful futures,” said Putnam County Schools superintendent Rick Surrency.

Web Design Krewe

Web Design Krewe will teach students at Q.I. Roberts Junior-Senior High School in Florahome, FL how to design and launch a website for a small business or nonprofit, emphasizing skills such as communication, coding, and website development to build a talent pipeline for the future workforce. The STEM2 Hub developed the program in collaboration with IJHANA, a Jacksonville-based firm committed to advancing business strategy through digital transformation and advanced analytics.

Web Design Krewe

“As an entrepreneur and business strategist, I know firsthand how important it is to create a pipeline of students who are knowledgeable and experienced in areas like product and process design and digital strategy. Through Web Design Krewe, we fully expect students to acquire these important skills and visualize themselves using them to become the business leaders of tomorrow,” said James Higbe, a partner at IJHANA.

The STEM2 Hub offered a similar web design program over the summer to students participating in the Boys and Girls’ Club of Northeast Florida’s summer programs at A. Philip Randolph Career Academies, a Duval County school in Jacksonville’s urban core. In spite of attendance challenges typical to many summer vacation programs, course organizers were able to collect both pre- and post-test data on five students. Their gains were remarkable — the average score increased by 30 points from pre- to post-test.

3D Printing Club

3D printing is changing the future of many industries, including manufacturing, distribution, and even medicine. The 3D Printing Club will use exciting new tools and technology to engage students to create and explore!  In this after-school club offered at targeted schools, students will design their very own 3D objects. The club curriculum will reinforce math and science principles taught during the school day.

Working with Local Business

Beyond the programs funded by the recent AT&T grant, STEM2 Hub benefits from the involvement of the leaders from some of the top companies in Jacksonville who know the gaps in the local workforce pipeline. A representative from the Jacksonville Chamber sits on the board and helps align plans with the development goals for the region. Board members help the Hub plan and fill the local employment pipeline through mentorships, internships, and outreach. For example, the TEALS program may be deployed on a wide scale in the 2018-19 school year to bring computer science to all high schools in the region, establishing a direct connection for high school students to those currently working in the tech sector.

The STEM2 Hub in Northeast Florida is developing unique programs and applying successful program strategies learned from STEM Learning Ecosystems. Kathleen Schofield, Program Director, was recently named to the inaugural cohort of LEAD STEM, which will provide opportunities for additional learning and collaboration with other STEM education leaders from across the country. Listen to this local NPR interview, or read this post to learn more about Schofield and the STEM2 Hub.