Central MA STEM Network selected to join global STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice

DEPARTMENT(S): 
April 3, 2019

The Central Massachusetts STEM Network has just been selected to join the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, SLECoP. In a highly competitive process, the Central Massachusetts STEM Network, under the leadership of the STEM Education Center at WPI, was named one of 15 new ecosystems selected to join the global movement devoted to dramatic improvement in how students learn.

STEM Learning Ecosystems build meaningful regional connections among educators, business and industry partners, after-school and summer programs to prepare students for the opportunities and challenges of the future. Each ecosystem connects to counterparts from across the country and world, enabling the exchange of best practices, information and resource-sharing.

The 15 ecosystems joining the SLECoP today bring the number to 85 total, with most in the United States but also extending to Canada, Mexico, Israel and Kenya. New ecosystems to join the SLECoP range from the entire states of Iowa, Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia to regions like Biloxi, Miss., Broward County, Fla., Central Massachusetts and Lincoln, Neb.

“This was an incredibly competitive process, and we were only able to admit ecosystems who would be capable of making immediate contributions to our thriving community of practice,” said Jan Morrison, president and founding partner of TIES, the organization that operates the SLECoP. “The ecosystems that we selected now have pulled together diverse partners who no longer accept the status quo in education; they want to see all students access high quality STEM education that will prepare them for life and work in the next century.”

Forming STEM ecosystems was listed as the No. 1 priority for STEM education in a December 2018 report by the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“WPI and the Central Massachusetts region are making great strides to offer the recommended rich, meaningful STEM education and experiences to our youth,” said Kathy Chen, Executive Director of the STEM Education Center at WPI and Regional Manager for the Central Massachusetts STEM Network. “As a recognized STEM Learning Ecosystem, we can tailor quality STEM learning opportunities to our specific needs in Central Massachusetts while leveraging the experiences of similar alliances across the world.”

Members of the new Central Massachusetts STEM Network Ecosystem include almost 300 representatives of PreK-12 schools and districts, higher education institutions, non-profit community groups, businesses and industry, and government.

Early plans for the Central Massachusetts STEM Network Ecosystem include the Central MA Science Festival on April 13 at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster, a quarterly meeting on May 16 to begin ramping up for Massachusetts STEM Week October 21-25, and TouchTomorrow coming up on June 8 at WPI.

The STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, SLECoP, is a global initiative of innovators who know that thriving communities are built through collaboration and a willingness to reimagine education and provide opportunities to those commonly neglected.

The SLECoP was built on the fundamental belief that learning happens everywhere, not just in traditional classrooms. Consequently, ecosystems are made up of partners representing K-12 public and private education, business and industry, after-school providers, non-profits, STEM-rich institutions, government and philanthropy.

Learn more about the Central Massachusetts STEM Network at wp.wpi.edu/cmsn and join online conversations on Facebook. Learn more about the national initiative at stemecosystems.org. Address specific questions to info@stemecosystems.org. Join online conversations on Twitter @STEMecosystems and #STEMecosystems and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 2004 the Central Massachusetts STEM Network has received grants from the STEM Pipeline Fund, a state trust account administered by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives.