When the College of Science hosted the seventh annual Collaborating for Education and Research Forum at Jordan Hall of Science recently, growing connections converged between local educators, business and community leaders, academia, and K-12 classrooms for a potentially huge payout.
Representatives of a new partnership began the day of discussions and networking on Saturday, March 1, by announcing the creation of a $4.4 million pilot program to support schools in a wide region around South Bend. Two groups, the Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth and Project Lead the Way, invited schools to apply by March 31 for a portion of that support being committed to prepare students for careers in the high-stakes STEM disciplines.
The combination of science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, called STEM, portends a growing economy and strong workforce for this area, according to the varied stakeholders who pooled their resources to offer the $4.4 million in grants. Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit provider of STEM programs, including K-12 curriculum tools and professional development for teachers, contributed $2.2 million, with the remaining amount coming from companies, foundations, other organizations, and philanthropists in the targeted region, including St. Joseph County and four surrounding counties.
K-12 educators and others who composed the annual forum’s audience posed questions for the partnership leaders and representatives of counties and schools. More than 100 attendees were there for professional growth opportunities in the teaching of science. Thomas Loughran directed the forum from the Notre Dame QuarkNet program.
In addition to the College of Science and the College of Engineering, co-sponsors of the Collaborating for Education and Research Forum included the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education within the Institute for Educational Initiatives, Notre Dame’s Office of Public Affairs, the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center, and the Northern Indiana Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Collaboration. A University of Notre Dame STEM Resource Guide, distributed at the forum, described more than 30 organizations, programs, and initiatives yielding local benefits for STEM education.