The Power of Partnerships

Partnerships, both within schools and between schools and other institutions, can play a big role in addressing these challenges, Walker stated. (Box 3-2 provides an example of an especially active partnership that was featured at the convocation.) She said elementary schools need people who will challenge their colleagues to try new things and think in new ways. Elementary school teachers also need colleagues interested and skilled in STEM teaching who will stay at that level and not go to a middle school or high school.

Elementary schools tend to think that afterschool and summer programs are separate entities, but it does not have to be that way, Walker said. She described her work with faculty members and students at a nearby university, including pre-service teachers, to provide the students in her school with experiences that they never would have had otherwise. Walker applied for grants that would help her bring materials and profes-

Partner members complement each other in bringing their own resources and know-how to the collaboration. For example, the Discovery Science Center houses more than 120 stimulating interactive exhibits within its 59,000 square foot museum site, but it has also long been committed to enriching science education in the community through outreach and field trip programs. As part of OC STEM, for schools lacking teachers with strong STEM expertise, the Discovery Science Center offers a series of hands-on, inquiry-based teaching activities using do-it-yourself science kits based on its Future Scientists and Engineers of America project ( The museum provides materials, curricula, and professional training to frontline teaching staff who want to implement these programs, said Janet Yamaguchi, the center’s vice president of education. Discovery Science Center staff also have made “pop in” classroom visits to observe and coach teachers not just on how to use the activity kits with competence and confidence but also with the enthusiasm that gets students fired up. “We were excited to see that that system worked,” Yamaguchi said.

This year, OC STEM is integrating more business participation into its model through its STEM Connector—kind of an “eHarmony of education,” Solomon said—that connects STEM professionals who volunteer time with in-school and afterschool activities and events. The goal for 2014 is to make 10,000 connections by December.


*More information is available at [June 2014]. The PowerPoint file for this presentation is available at [June 2014]. A video describing OC STEM that also was presented during this session is available at [June 2014].

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