‘STEM ecosystems’ gain traction throughout the nation

There are now more than two dozen STEM ecosystems at various stages of development around the country — and many of them are modeled after the OC STEM Initiative here in Orange County. 

What’s a STEM ecosystem, you ask? Think of it as a collaboration that involves educators, administrators, businesses and community organizations working together to provide opportunities for STEM education after school and in the community.

OC STEM logoThese partnerships were the focus of the U.S. News STEM Solutions conference held this week in San Diego, where OCDE’s chief academic officer, Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, served as a featured panelist. Foundations, educational institutions and community programs were also represented at the event, titled “OC STEM: An Ecosystem Approach Optimizing STEM Learning for All.”

 Participants learned how to build and support local STEM ecosystems, along with the core characteristics and attributes that make them successful. U.S. News & World Report has coverage here.

 “Often times in formal education, teachers are in their classroom trying to implement new standards and the after school world and informal world are alien,” Dr. Hittenberger told U.S. News. “To realize we have these partners in the informal space who can be working together with us on the implementation of these complex sets of standards … that’s super powerful. And it’s having a transformative effect on the way our schools are approaching STEM.”