Kaci Fankhauser

SciTech Institute


Arizona SciTech is a strong example of the collaborative work of the national STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice

[Phoenix, AZ] Acting on recommendations of top national education experts, the federal government Tuesday issued the “Charting A Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education,” listing participation of all Americans in STEM ecosystems as a top priority.

The federal plan, announced Tuesday at the White House, says STEM ecosystems are pathways for improving STEM literacy, ensuring a strong workforce and global competitiveness for all, and an important means to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in a thriving STEM workforce.

Arizona SciTech has already implemented the described ecosystem approach to improving STEM education and access for all, with great local success.

STEM Ecosystems across the country unite stakeholders from a variety of community-based organizations — including formal and after-school education, higher education, business, government, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector — to cultivate, innovate and work for common goals and actions surrounding world-class STEM opportunities for all learners.

The federal STEM five-year strategic plan, under development for more than a year, is based on input from numerous stakeholders, including educators, business and community leaders, and representatives from all 50 states who attended a June federal STEM Summit hosted by Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) at the White House.

The plan identifies three discrete goals: 1) Building strong foundations for STEM Literacy;

2) Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM and 3) Preparing the STEM Workforce for the Future. The plan identifies methods for achieving the goals with the formation of STEM ecosystems as the leading strategy.

These goals align closely with the work of Arizona SciTech. Locally, the Ecosystem is empowering youth STEM leaders in 150 schools across the state with the Chief Science Officer program and celebrating STEM innovation across Arizona through the grassroots events of the SciTech Festival.

“This pathway focuses on strengthening existing relationships and developing new connections between educational institutions, employers, and their communities. That means bringing together schools, colleges and universities, libraries, museums, and other community resources to build STEM ecosystems that broaden and enrich each learner’s educational and career journey,” the report says.

Jan Morrison, founder and president of TIES – Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, which designed and continues to lead the STEM Learning EcosystemsSM Community of Practice and who participated in the OSTP Summit, said, “We celebrate the fifty states’ vision and brilliance in focusing this report on the great value of bringing the work of STEM to all through STEM Learning Ecosystems.”

“The design of our communities as STEM Ecosystems ensures that STEM is central to children’s education both in- and out-of-school and that it is inextricably linked to workforce and a lifetime of solving our world’s grandest of challenges.”

About the Arizona SciTech Ecosystem

Since 2012, the Arizona SciTech Ecosystem has developed one of the nation’s largest STEM networks of over 800+ organizations. Programs include the Arizona SciTech Festival, National Chief Science Officer (CSO) Initiative, and AZSTEM School Community of Practice (AZSTEM COP). Overarching goals are to promote science and STEM education, and increase the pipeline of qualified, skilled Arizonans entering higher education institutions and the workforce. The Festival offers informal STEM awareness and engagement opportunities that are sustainable and culturally responsive; supports economic development of key STEM sectors for long-term growth; and enhances partnerships between business, industry, schools, municipalities, and community leaders. The CSO’s formal and informal educational and leadership activities place youth squarely in the center of STEM promotion, experience, and community action, ultimately strengthening the 21st century STEM workforce. The AZSTEM COP strengthens Arizona’s formal STEM education by engaging students, educators, and community stakeholders in curriculum development and professional development.

About STEM Learning Ecosystems

STEM Learning Ecosystems build strong collaborations in schools and beyond the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, with local business and industry partners, and in science centers, libraries and other places both virtual and physical. Ecosystems strive to enable students to connect what they learn at home, in school and out-of-school with real-world opportunities.

About TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM

TIES is dedicated to making STEM accessible to everyone, especially underserved and underrepresented learners. We do this by connecting stakeholders — educators, funders, community organizations, businesses and government agencies — who, through collaborative partnerships, create meaningful and gainful STEM learning experiences. Our team of consultants provides strategic planning support and guides design, training and implementation across all of our services.

Learn more about STEM Learning Ecosystems national initiative at Address specific questions to Join online conversations on Twitter @STEMecosystems and #STEMecosystems and on Facebook.

Learn more about TIES – Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM’s work with STEM Design, Digital Fabrication and Innovation Labs, STEM Talent, and Philanthropy and Social Impact at Join the online conversation on Twitter @tiesteach and Facebook /tiesteach.

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