VCU SOE among five universities to release STEM white paper

Dr. Byers and Dr. Edmondson are contributing authors in collaborative effort

Participants at a STEM Leadership Summit hosted by the VCU School of Education in October 2019 at Cabell Library.
The STEM white paper is a synthesis of feedback captured from many sources, including this STEM Leadership Summit hosted by the VCU School of Education at Cabell Library in 2019. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Relations)

A five-university, intra-collaborative effort, funded by the 4VA: Advancing the Commonwealth initiative, recently developed a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) white paper titled Developing a Virginia STEM Network. This paper is a synthesis of feedback captured from participating universities and from a STEM Leadership Summit hosted by the VCU School of Education in October 2019.

Participating universities include (in alphabetical order) George Mason University, James Madison University, University of VirginiaVirginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech. Dr. Al Byers and Dr. Elizabeth Edmondson in SOE’s Department of Teaching and Learning are part of the 4VA STEM grant and contributing authors in this collaborative effort.

STEM literacy is critical to workforce development and to an educated citizenry. Virginia has many points of pride in STEM education and is poised to accelerate STEM opportunities for all of its citizens.The paper proposes the Commonwealth of Virginia launch a statewide STEM Network that strengthens our existing collaborations, cultivates new strategic partnerships, and ensures that all Virginians can access the activities, relationships and tools that will equip them with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for the future.

Three key conditions for success of the STEM Network include:

  • Active promotion of equity, access and inclusion
  • Collaboration across regions and sectors
  • Sustainable Infrastructure

The white paper also expands seven strategic recommendations to inform Governor Ralph Northam's Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Commission that is forging a statewide plan to be released in the summer of 2020 that will:

  1. Seek consensus on “quality STEM” in terms relevant to this network;
  2. Build a culture of STEM awareness with a focus on equity, accessibility and inclusion;
  3. Develop an accessible and thorough inventory of Virginia STEM activities;
  4. Support sustainable network infrastructure;
  5. Advance a communication plan;
  6. Embed an evaluation plan that ensures annual assessment of network activities and operations; and
  7. Commit to long-term support and sustainability.

Tina Maglicmot, director of STEM at the Virginia Department of Education, said that the work done by this group helps lay the groundwork to better understand the STEM landscape throughout the commonwealth, helping us identify strengths we can lean on and areas that need additional support to thrive. Chuck English, Virginia STEM coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia who is also working on the forthcoming Virginia STEM strategic plan, said that this effort will greatly aid the larger statewide strategic planning being led by Gov. Northam's STEM Commission.

SOE is excited to help contribute to this effort in our region and recently launched the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISTEME) in partnership with the Science Museum of Virginia. The CISTEME aims to empower students, particularly those from historically underrepresented and underserved populations, and the teachers who serve them, to engage in STEM learning experiences and become aware of STEM career opportunities.

Collectively, working in harmony and in concert we accomplish so much more than any of our efforts individually. The VCU School of Education looks forward to supporting our STEM education efforts across the commonwealth.