The need for industry integration is there and the potential benefits to our schools, teachers, students, companies, and ultimately our society is clear.
STEMLink is an online matchmaking service designed to pair educators and students in schools with STEM industry partners and Higher Ed who are actively supporting improved STEM education by providing great STEM experiences for K12 students and teachers. We know that the most successful STEM schools now emerging nationwide to address the need for a better future STEM workforce are successful because of their collaborations with STEM industry partners to the benefit of teachers and students. And yet, it has historically been a challenge for such strategic partnerships to be forged.
Due to the many demands on administrators and educators, average schools are not likely to be pro-active in searching for and engaging with industry partners and often lack the infrastructure and experience to make such partnership effective and long-term. In many cases partnership opportunities come about simply because a parent or friend associated with the school makes an informal connection based more on luck and timing than purposive strategy.
On the industry and higher education side, it is often difficult to navigate the complexities of multiple school districts, rules and permissions, find the desired demographics and teacher or student populations, and then gain the required commitment for programs or educational opportunities the company or organization wishes to support. Whether it be internships and externships, after-school or in-school projects, employee volunteer programs, teacher professional development training, field trips, etc … it is not easy to establish the necessary relationships with schools to conduct an organizational outreach strategy.
Based on school and/or educator level profiles and needs articulation, STEMLink makes it easier, cheaper, and less time consuming for educators to establish STEM industry partnerships to support appropriate experiential STEM learning opportunities for their K12 students. STEMLink includes a back-end database that actively seeks appropriate partners based on user profile inputs and can help to make recommendations for potential matches – Making it easier for teachers to navigate corporate programs.
Based on organizational or program level profiles and opportunity articulation, STEMLink makes it easier, cheaper, and less time consuming for STEM industry organizations to find appropriate school partners and establish partnerships to support experiential STEM learning outreach activities to K12 students and teachers. STEMLink includes a back-end database that actively seeks appropriate partners based on user profile inputs and makes recommendations for potential matches. For example, many companies must fall within guidelines for support (i.e. Is the school a Title 1 school? What percentage of kids are ESL learners? What is the schools STEM model?). STEMLink initiates matches based on your corporate guidelines.
In addition, STEMLink includes reporting and assessment tools and assistance to track the progress and outcomes of matches made in the system. Evaluation is an often neglected but essential component for establishing ROI for companies, educational impact for schools, and discovering what works, why and for whom so that future efforts can benefit.
STEMLink was launched by XSci – The Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative at the University of Colorado as part of the work of the Colorado Experiential STEM Learning Network. Funding support to sustain the site after launch is derived from minimal participation fees from industry side partners and fees for different levels of evaluation services as desired for specific matched projects. Rates are kept low recognizing that even small contributions from many sources will serve to benefit the greater community of STEM organizations.