New dashboard gives parents, community members a view of K-12 STEM courses across OC

A new website created by OC STEM in partnership with the Orange County Department of Education lets you quickly browse the science, technology, engineering and math courses offered at K-12 schools throughout the county.

Introduced earlier this year, the OC STEM Dashboard enables users to explore STEM offerings by city or by subject. The idea is to give parents — including those considering moving to Orange County — and industry leaders a snapshot of the courses available at local campuses. Early education and expanded learning options are also identified through the user-friendly site.

Screenshot of the OC STEM DashboardAs an example, if you click on “Location” and “Tustin,” you’ll access a list of 16 specific STEM subjects, including Earth and space science, multimedia arts and robotics. Click on “Robotics” and you can see all the robotics courses offered in Tustin Unified, broken out by grade level and school. (Spoiler alert: There are a lot.)

“The OC STEM Dashboard is designed to highlight the pipeline that we’re building in the K-12 system,” says OCDE Associate Superintendent Christine Olmstead, who oversees Instructional Services. “We want to make it easy for parents to evaluate the opportunities that are out there for their children. At the same time, we’re looking to provide our business community with a clear picture of how our schools are working to prepare Orange County students for the jobs of tomorrow.”

As it turns out, many of those jobs will be STEM-based.

Over the last decade, employment in the science, technology, engineering and math sectors increased by 24.4 percent while non-STEM occupations grew by just 4 percent, according to statistics produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Looking ahead, STEM jobs are projected to continue outpacing non-STEM jobs while also commanding higher wages, and industry experts note that other careers are increasingly demanding STEM skills.

Local districts are well aware of these trends, and the OC STEM Dashboard shows how they’re working to equip the next generation. Olmstead says the project took about two years to complete with the help of a consultant who was tasked with collecting and inputting data.

“It took time to gather all the data, then vet the data with our districts and give them the opportunity to make sure it was correct,” she said. “Now this valuable resource is available online, and we look forward to working with our lead STEM practitioners to update it each year.”