Oregon Department of Education Awards $664,000 to Support STEM Education on the Oregon Coast
Cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education will benefit kindergarten through community college classrooms next year thanks to a new grant that supports teachers and students along the Oregon coast.
The Oregon Department of Education announced the $664,000 award on February 25. The grant supports the development of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub that will serve the Oregon coast from Coos Bay to Astoria.
“The idea behind this new program is to create a center, or hub, to facilitate connections between teachers and community partners and pool local Oregon coast resources to improve students’ science, technology, engineering and math learning,” explained Tracy Crews, of Oregon Sea Grant who will manage the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.
Collaboratively, the Lincoln County School District, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon State University’s Sea Grant and Tillamook School District will provide the leadership in developing the Oregon Coast STEM Hub. This spring, they will identify the unique needs for STEM education in coastal communities and the resources and opportunities already available. To this end, they’ll solicit insight from a variety of stakeholders including employers so that they may better prepare students for locally available jobs.
“The Coastal STEM Hub has recognized the incredible abundance of assets that exist on the Coast—the extraordinary natural environments, as well as the numerous community organizations, small businesses, and natural resource agencies—and they are taking a ‘shared responsibility’ approach to the education of our youth and children,” said Mark Lewis, Director of STEM for the Oregon Education Investment Board.
The STEM Hub will also benefit from the support of over 40 partner organizations including Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Near Space Corporation, Georgia-Pacific, Central Oregon Coast National Organization for Women, and the Marine Technology Society–Oregon Chapter.
Tom Rinearson, Superintendent of the Lincoln County School District, which is the fiscal agent for the grant, stated, “We hope this will evolve into a movement that will not just benefit students and teachers, but will also create wonderful opportunities for whole communities.” The Coastal STEM Hub will hold four public meetings along the Oregon coast this spring to collect insight from coastal communities. Equipped with what they learn, the Oregon Coast STEM Hub will then design activities, materials and services that will better prepare and enable teachers to improve students’ STEM education and utilize local coastal resources. This will include professional development opportunities for educators and networks of communication around STEM opportunities up and down the coast.
“We are honored to be granted the opportunity to help provide outstanding STEM education services to the historically underserved students of our Oregon coast community,” said Carrie Lewis, President/CEO of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
As one of the lead agencies on the project, the Aquarium will receive a small portion of the grant to support its staff’s efforts, but the nonprofit chose to join the partnership for a different reason.
Kerry Carlin-Morgan, Director of Education at the Aquarium explained, “Ocean sciences naturally connect with all the STEM subjects. This grant will build on our partnerships with the Lincoln County and Tillamook School Districts and other organizations through the ocean literacy program which teaches teachers how to integrate marine science into their lesson plans.”
To learn how to participate in this planning process, or to learn more about the program, contact Tracy Crews, Project Manager for Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub, at OregonCoastSTEM@oregonstate.edu.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so that the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium, or Twitter.com/OrCoastAquarium for the latest updates.