Spotlight: ecosySTEM KC

Spotlight: ecosySTEM KC

ecosySTEM KC partner connects industry, educators and sees STEM participation skyrocket

Kansas City’s emergence as a thriving hub for tech, entrepreneurship, innovation and the arts make it a natural hotspot for incubating new approaches to STEM education. Increased communication and discussion of practical solutions among ecosystem partners is yielding increased access to STEM education opportunities.

Knowing that STEM work in the classroom isn’t always easy for parents and the community to grasp, KC STEM Alliance created a Project Lead The Way Senior Showcase. The event provides a tangible way to share innovative projects in engineering and biomedical science and connects students with mentors from their fields of interest. Student enrollment in the program increased 92 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, reaching more than 37,000 students in 33 school districts. Read more about the successful Senior Showcase here.

Beyond rapid expansion of Project Lead The Way in Kansas City, the STEM Learning Ecosystem is redefining ways partners work together.

Within ecosySTEM KC, a transportation workgroup was convened by the Missouri Afterschool Alliance and the KS Enrichment Network, both partners focused on after-school programming, along with the Kansas City Public Library, Johnson County Library, and other after-school partners who recognize that access to safe and available transportation is a barrier for students to participate in STEM learning opportunities across the city.  This working group was invited to the larger transportation committee in Kansas City and presented the student voice regarding transportation needs.  This was the first time that the metropolitan group had considered how students utilized the citywide transportation system.

EcosySTEM KC partners are using the LRNG platform to create STEM experiences for students. The Kansas City Public Library, Science Pioneers and the KC Social Innovation Center are among the partners who have developed STEM-related playlists to date.

Ecosystem KC leadership now has the benefit of a STEM Landscape Study, which will be used to guide future plans. The study was commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation utilizing the STEM Asset Survey Data, and followed up with detailed focus groups and a social network analysis. The findings were released to the ecosySTEM KC leadership team in January 2017. A publicly available summary of the data will be made available soon.  If your organization has access to valuable studies, please let us all benefit; share the data and learnings with other STEM Learning Ecosystems in the Evaluation & Assessment Group.