FLATE Supports National Effort to Increase Pipeline of Skilled Workers in Knowledge Economy

As the U.S. Department for labor points to STEM as a “central” force in sustaining economic competitiveness and growth, focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is at an all time high, at all educational levels. Across the board, there is general consensus as well as consciousness to step up education and training efforts to prepare a fresh pipeline of workers who are qualified to work in STEM-related fields (Source: Department of Labor). FLATE recognizes this growing need and importance of STEM, and has joined in this national effort to increase the number of “knowledge workers.” The Center’s role as a leader in creating relevant, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) centered curriculum has had a positive impact on middle and high school educators across Florida.

As part of its effort to share information and resources, Dr. Marie Boyette, FLATE’s associate director recently presented sessions, for the second year, at the 2011 Secondary Science Professional Study Day for Hillsborough County high school educators. The event was held Aug. 17 and involved 21 high school teachers. In keeping with the theme—Accessing the World through Science—Dr. Boyette presented information on integrating the T & E in STEM into mainstream curriculum. During the workshop, educators had the opportunity to engage in a project-based learning activity that involved creating their own curriculum aligned to core STEM concepts. Working in teams, teachers designed a prototype following the four step engineering design process (Plan, Design, Test and Share). Projects created covered water quality, hydroponic gardening, building cars from bicycle parts, and mechanical vs. electrical efficiency. “These hands-on projects were geared to demonstrate how science and math serve as enablers for technology and engineering applications” Boyette said.

Teachers were also updated about FLATE’s expansive resources available to their schools. These included organizing field trips to local high-tech industries, mapping college and career pathways, and FLATE’s award winning lesson plans replete with STEM-embedded concepts and applications. Teachers also received information on “Industry Day” for students, hosting onsite professional development workshops for teacher groups, and FLATE’s summer institutes and STEM camps for teachers. Larry Plank, director of STEM education for K-12 at Hillsborough County Public Schools was “delighted to have wonderful support from academic and community partners.” He said “FLATE and others make for unique opportunities for our teachers and students...ultimately inspiring kids to pursue careers in STEM.”

For more information on FLATE’s professional development initiatives, or STEM based projects/curriculum contact FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, and Dr. Marie Boyette at boyette@fl-ate.org. You can also visit www.madeinflorida.org for additional resources.