Arizona SciTech Ecosystem
A collaborative initiative of the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona STEM Ecosystem is a grassroots network of over 900 organizations. SciTech Institute, serving as the ecosystem’s backbone organization, works with these entities to promote STEM awareness and career pathways, build leadership and employability skills, and foster a diverse pipeline of qualified Arizonans entering higher education institutions and the workforce. The network is an inaugural member of an international community of practice, STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems, that enables practitioners to share and replicate successful STEM learning opportunities.
Need: Arizona’s STEM industries are flourishing. Between 2017 and 2027, STEM jobs are expected to grow by 21%. This growth will occur largely in the fields of computers and technology, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, bioscience, and business and financial services. These opportunities, however, can only be harnessed by a diverse workforce proficient in STEM skills and the creativity and critical thinking fostered by STEM literacy. The Arizona STEM Ecosystem is leveraging the state’s flourishing industry base to position Arizona as a national leader in STEM and STEM fields.
Approach: SciTech Institute is working with its partners across the state to establish a network of regional hubs that work together to nurture partnerships and synergies across geographic and economic boundaries. They will identify leads and members to work with the focus area coordinators (e.g., local and regional topic experts and specialists) on key focus areas, such as workforce skills, STEM literacy; diversity, equity and inclusion; and STEM learning tools, based on community needs.
Key results to date:
- In April 2020, SciTech Institute launched a comprehensive digital resource directory on the website (https://scitechinstitute.org/resources/). Currently, there are almost 4,000 resources listed. Among the offerings are links specific to STEM, Music and Art, and Social Science educational resources to support educators, students and parents. For instance, Try This at Home provides hands-on activities for youth and families and Virtual Field Trips & Live Cams enables these groups to virtually visit aquariums, historical places, museums, parks and other natural habitats and zoos, among others. The directory also includes information for Ecosystem Organizations looking to connect with each other in Advanced Manufacturing, Academia, Aerospace & Defense, Bioscience, Computer Technology, Medicine, Mining, etc.
- SciTech Institute teamed up with the Arizona Science Center in May to launch the virtual video conference series, STEM Community Lunchtime Conversations, to ensure the STEM community remains engaged and connected in spite of the social distancing forced by COVID-19. These sessions were designed to provide the community the opportunity to discuss current topics around STEM, workforce and innovation. The virtual setting has broadened engagement by reducing geographic, economic and time barriers to attend. Since May 2020, 16+ conversations have been held, including: STEM Education Equity During COVID & Beyond; Do you Tinker, Make, Experiment, Collaborate?; STEM for Students With Exceptional Needs; Building a STEM Ecosystem and Virtual Field Trips. Contact Hope Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly Greene at email@example.com to sign up as a participant or presenter for a future session.
- In November 2020 the SciTech Institute facilitated the creation and digital convening of the Arizona Working Group on Diversity and Equity in STEM. This group, currently consisting of over 30 educators, administrators, and STEM professionals, provides and facilitates a platform where STEMists from a myriad of backgrounds, professions, and stakeholder groups can come together to discuss, provide resources, and take action for equity in STEM education and STEM institutions.
The 2020 STEM & Innovation Summit transitioned to a virtual event due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The September 30 event engaged ~40 presenters, and facilitators drew 300 people online and 150 on Facebook Live.