“By creating a culture of STEM learning, schools are establishing an education pipeline for our next generation workforce,” says Michelle Kavanaugh, Ed.D., president of the WNY STEM Hub. “Our region’s future depends on STEM trained and innovation-talented employees with technical skills and creative problem-solving abilities in a variety of career paths.”
In 2014, Mount St. Mary Academy launched an extensive STEM program that includes expanded science facilities, the addition of a STEM laboratory, new academic offerings and a distinctive STEM introductory course to educate students on future career possibilities. The new program was made possible by the Education Collaborative of Western New York (EdCo) and the John R. Oishei Foundation Diversification and STEM Capacity Building grant.
Led by STEM Co-Coordinators Terri Logan and Katelin Kostek and advised by environmental engineer Peg Simons ’78 from ThermoFisher Scientific, MSM developed a program that introduced students to STEAM concepts and career opportunities designed to reach 100% of the student body.
At the cornerstone of Mount St. Mary Academy’s STEM program is a required year-long sophomore STEM class where students are charged with using all facets of STEM. Tasks for the students vary based on interest, but range from creating their own Rube Goldberg machines (engineering, science, math), to growing living “green walls” (science, engineering, math), to developing their own apps (technology, engineering, math).
The school builds upon that introduction to STEM concepts with interdisciplinary projects, incorporating STEM into fields as diverse as entrepreneurship and religion. Last year, all students completed a religion project that challenged them to model an object in a CAD-like software and printed it on one of the school’s 3D printers. These objects represented major Catholic holy days or our faith in general.
The WNY STEM Hub is a volunteer-driven incorporated organization with more than 600 individual members representing more than 250 organizations in Western New York. It is affiliated with the national STEMx network and the Empire State STEM Learning Network. Its aim is to create awareness and partnerships that serve learners of all ages in accessing STEM/STEAM learning and careers. Further information can be found at wnystem.org.