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Advancing STEM Education for All in New York City

July 25, 2019

Emma Banay

Emma Banay is the Director of STEM Programs at ExpandED Schools.

The City’s largest network of STEM educators united this year to transform STEM education of New York City’s children. Through five working groups and quarterly citywide convenings, network members developed common purpose on key themes in order to fuel collective efforts. Please join the Network if you are interested in helping to develop and implement these key themes for STEM education.

STEM education is inextricably linked to social justice. Featured in this blog’s previous spotlight story, the Social Justice Working Group set priorities to pursue in the next school year, namely: supporting culturally responsive pedagogy, creating resources for educators to uncover and unlearn unconscious bias, and increasing family representation and participation in the STEM Network.  In addition, the group expressed concern over the cancellation of the highly-regarded New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) STEM Institute in 2019. Interest in increasing both the quantity and quality of STEM learning has never been greater, so the loss of the STEM Institute for New York City’s teachers and their students is devastating. The Network respectfully requests the reinstatement of this critically important and highly effective program. The loss of this program would have a profoundly negative impact precisely at a time we should be working together to ensure that all NYC students are exposed to high-quality STEM education.  For those looking to get involved, contact co-Chairs Brian Cohen (Beam Center, [email protected]) and Jennifer Negron (The Pinkerton Foundation, [email protected]).

Work-based learning in STEM prepares young people for career and college choices. The Work-Based Learning Working Group formed with the goal of identifying best practices in work-based learning experiences for young people in the STEM fields. The group assembled a compilation of best practices spanning from career exposure to career preparation and next plans to publish the results in a white paper, featuring case studies from Network members. Jennifer Chambers, Senior Scientist II and Education Specialist at new member Schrödinger explained, “participating in the WBL Working group helped me with crafting the experience for our intern. As part of our work this year, the Work-Based Learning group reviewed many online resources for best practices for work-based learning. In doing that, I was given a great opportunity to read through vetted material to help me build the ship as I sailed it.”  Lynne Holding (Mentoring in Medicine, [email protected] ) and Ellen O’Connell (Partnership for After School Education, [email protected]) co-chair the working group.

STEM educators should work together to build the City’s Capacity for STEM Education. Headed by Brian Cohen (Beam Center, [email protected]) and Michaela Labriole (New York Hall of Science, [email protected]), the City Capacity Working Group has spent the year gathering insights about how the Network can better help member organizations connect to funders, partner with potential collaborators to grow and scale, and programmatic gaps within the field. The group actively seeks to increase membership in order to plan and host events to meet the needs identified so far. The working group will host the first Network meeting of 2019-2020 school year (register for the meeting online here).

Aligning data collection and analysis can improve STEM education. The Evaluation Working Group shared early results from a formative feedback tool, Listen4Good, piloted by some Network members, which the Working Group promoted to additional members over the course of the year. The group plans to align data collection efforts among member organizations, looking for common tools, metrics, and outcomes in the coming year.  They’ll be using data collected through the Network’s end-of-year survey to establish baseline information about the Network’s data collection capacity, offering capacity-building events, and making recommendations to the membership about ways to coordinate impact.  The group is chaired Sheri Levinsky-Raskin (the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, [email protected]).

Families are integral to effective STEM learning. Last but not least, the Family Engagement Working Group developed and rolled out a “soft launch” of its family engagement guide, a supplement to the Family Engagement Circles of Support toolkit, developed by the Department of Youth and Community Development, a Network member.  By conducting a literature review, culling resources from Network members, and doing independent research, the group assembled a compilation of best practices in family engagement in STEM specifically.  Have a resource to share, or interested in spreading the word?  Get in touch with Jackie Davis-Manigaulte (Cornell University Cooperative Extension, [email protected]) or Chris Ahearn (Reach the World, [email protected]), co-chairs of the group.

It’s been a busy and productive year – and we look ahead to another year of coordinated effort among youth organizations, cultural institutions, corporations, city agencies, intermediaries and others to advance STEM learning in New York City. See you in the Fall!