Broward Area STEM Ecosystem (BASE)
The Broward Area STEM Ecosystem (BASE) is a regional collaboration of STEM stakeholders in the South Florida community aligned with three primary common goals: (1) Engage and interest youth with hands-on STEM through authentic experiences and competitions; (2) Ensure foundational skills in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, computational thinking, problem-solving and perseverance; and (3) Prepare students to be life-ready for future studies and careers in any area, not only those typically thought of as STEM-related. The mission of BASE is to reach our diverse population with a diverse portfolio of STEM opportunities, assuring that STEM is for ALL students.
The Broward Area STEM Ecosystem (BASE) relies on partnerships with a diverse membership that includes government, higher ed, corporations, non-profit organizations, and others. BCPS has convened a STEM Advisory Board since 2017 that served as an incubator in preparation for formalizing as BASE. There are currently 15 business and industry partners, 7 philanthropic partners, and representatives from many departments within BCPS (instruction and curriculum, Career Technical Adult and Community Education, Equity and Diversity, Afterschool Programs, Exceptional Student Education, English as a Second Language, Title 1, and Information Technology). Here we highlight the diversity of a selection of a few long-term partners for STEM. Code.org, a non-profit organization that aims to encourage students of all ages to learn computer science (CS), partnered with Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in 2013 to increase access to computer science. BCPS is currently a Regional Partner, building a regional community for CS. This includes 20 master teacher trainers and over 1,000 CS-trained K-12 teachers. In addition, more than 30 middle schools offer a high school level computer science course reaching more than 25,000 students, and more than 6,000 high school students are enrolled in CS courses at the college level. More than 70% of BCPS students enrolled in CS are under-represented minorities and approximately 40% are female. BCPS partners with the county government, such as the Broward County Environmental Planning & Community Resilience Division (EPCRD). This partnership between EPCRD and BCPS began in 2006 as part of the NatureScape Broward Program. The partnership offers training for students, teachers, and BCPS staff; engages students in development of outdoor learning gardens; conducts water conservation audits; provides resources and opportunities to participate in environmental initiatives such as the annual Broward Water Matters Day and the P3 Eco-Challenge, which rewards schools, teachers, staff, and students that demonstrate success in advancing environmental initiatives and promoting environmental stewardship. Most recently, this partnership held the first Broward Youth Climate Summit where 500 middle and high school students planned actions to support climate and conservation. ITWomen’s collaboration with BCPS extends to providing Role Model Speakers to BCPS students with the goal of inspiring girls to pursue a STEM career. ITWomen delivers free Robotics & Coding Camps, providing access to underserved girls. These Summer Camps inspire girls to choose STEM pathways and result in the award of ITWomen Scholarships. A higher education partner, Nova Southeastern University (NSU), has had a long-standing relationship with the district as well through collaborative efforts and partnerships between University faculty and K12 educators to support them in computer science competency. NSU will serve in an advisory capacity in the BASE and make available the time and talent of faculty in cultivating the project. BCPS is a natural leader to support this work because of their long-standing commitment and innovating practices that encourage STEM and Computer Science exposure and skill development. A guiding principle in all the partnerships comprising BASE is broadening participation in STEM, driven by equity of access to a diverse pool of authentic STEM experiences.
Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, Supervisor, STEM+CS, Broward County Public Schools
Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Director and Chief Resilience Officer, Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department
Claire Marrero, President, IT Women Charitable Foundation
Laylah Bulman, Regional Director,, LEGO Education
Dr. Meline Kevorkian, Interim Dean, College of Engineering and Computing, Nova Southeastern University
Sara Romero-Heaps, Senior Director of Content Strategy, Nearpod Summer Scarlatelli, STEM Center for Education & Career Development Manager, Museum of Discovery and Science
David Coddington, VP Business Development and Facilitator of South Florida TechGateway, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
Sheela VanHoose, Director of State Government Affairs, Code.org
Robin Molan, Director of Education, United Way of Broward County