How to spur technology, science, engineering, math ‘literacy’

Business leaders, lawmakers, educators and the public met late last week to announce a set of commitments to ensure that all students have a high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to increase and diversify the STEM pipeline necessary for a healthy economy.

Leaders from businesses including The Boeing Company, McKinstry, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Avista and Microsoft worked with education leaders from the University of Washington, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Education Association, Snoqualmie Tribes and other organizations at the Aerospace Industries Association/National Defense Industrial Association/Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition’s meeting to develop the following STEM Takes Flight 2012 commitments. They include:

• Achieving A Common Vision: Create an awareness campaign around STEM and develop an asset map of STEM programs in state.

• Preparing The Future Workforce: Support coupling of K-12 STEM education with financial investments from the industry to expand student enrollment in post-secondary degrees.

• Reaching A Broader Audience:  Building on Washington STEM’s communications and community engagement work, develop a plan to further engage parents, business and educators.

• Starting a STEM Network: (1) Share STEM Network model and case studies with the community; (2) Remove barriers to access; (3) Leverage relationships and funding; (4) Connect community and develop start-ups; and (5) Formalize the network.

• Advancing Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards: Convene stakeholders to develop a shared implementation plan and develop and share audience-specific messages.

• Washington STEM – Statewide Convener: Working with the growing network, Washington STEM will: (1) Develop and share common messaging and outcomes; (2) Mobilize parents, students, teachers, business and industry; and (3) Reconvene next year to assess and increase impact.

“The number and diversity of organizations represented at this gathering clearly shows our state’s dedication to ensuring student success in STEM,” said Dean Allen, CEO of McKinstry and Chair of Washington STEM’s Board of Directors. “STEM education will help drive Washington’s economy, and the business and education leaders represented here are committed to supporting students so they can be successful in this changing workplace.”

Washington STEM in partnership with The Boeing Company, the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association hosted the two-day STEM Workforce Division meeting at The Boeing Company in  Renton.

State legislator Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) was part of the two-day session held at Boeing in Renton last week.

“If you are going to live in the coming century, you need to have a foundation of STEM literacy,” she said.

It is the sort of ability needed to program your furnace or manage your money or take an online class.

“Literacy is the key word,” she explained. “It is the same concept as learning a language or key skill such as reading or writing.

“This effort is to ensure that we address STEM literacy at all levels from preschool though high school.”

Both gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Attorney General Rob McKenna spoke to the attendees to discuss how STEM fields drive the economy of Washington state and what kinds of education policies and practices are needed to reflect and support that growth.

The STEM Takes Flight 2012 Commitments were developed over two days by participants in workshops that tackled topics such as Preparing the Future Workforce – Joining Business and Educators to Re-imagine STEM Education, Building a STEM Foundation: Advancing Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards and more.

“STEM isn’t just for scientists and engineers,” said Caroline King, Chief Operating Officer of Washington STEM. “STEM education builds creativity and critical thinking skills that are necessary for all kinds of jobs across our state. It will take all of us — businesses, elected officials, educators, parents, students and community organizations — working together to ensure all students are prepared for the future.”

STEM is a nonprofit organization. Its goal is to reimagine and revitalize STEM education across Washington through investments supported by technical assistance and evaluation, to spread innovations statewide. Learn more at or on Facebook, or follow STEM on Twitter


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