STEM Design Challenge Puts Business into Colorado Classrooms

July 5, 2016

Mentorship Opportunity for Middle School Students Also Announced; Apply by August 13

June 28, 2016

Contact Information:
Melissa Reeves
720-502-4756 work
303-856-8098 cell

Denver, Colorado — It started with a three-day challenge for Colorado educators to show off their most creative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects to colleagues and industry professionals — and ended with three talented educators’ projects each receiving over $2,000 in funding.

The Colorado Education Initiative’s (CEI) STEM Design Challenge was a highlight at the recent sold-out 2016 CEI Showcase, a professional learning conference, that invited educators to bring a school project or classroom idea to life.

The challenge first introduced educators to to learn how to create projects on the crowdfunding site. Industry professionals from information technology and aerospace collaborated with educators to answer this challenge: “How can educators use STEM to bridge the divide between coursework and the real world?”

Twelve finalists pitched project ideas to a panel of judges that included CEI board members Leroy Williams and Graham Forman, founder and managing director of Edovate Capital. “It’s important that our educators know there is support for their STEM ideas from Colorado companies and business leaders,” said Forman.

Innovative project ideas ranged from a special education teacher whose concept was using 3-D printers to increase her students’ engagement in hands-on design to projects about designing greenhouses and reclaiming creeks.

“CEI is dedicated to supporting innovative educators who design student experiences that are relevant and engaging, while developing partnerships with Colorado companies that result in positive outcomes for kids,” said Williams. “I was inspired by the passion of these educators to take a risk and develop projects in a short amount of time, but in a compelling and persuasive way.”

Palmer High School teacher Sean Wybrant from Colorado Springs School District 11 took first place for his idea to engage female students, who are underrepresented in Colorado’s tech workforce, in technology and computer science projects. “My students are the heroes who will conceive of, design, and implement solutions to our world’s most complex problems,” he said. “We will take risks, we will face failure, and together we will persevere and mitigate those risks to ultimately achieve success.”
Teachers from the Greeley-Evans School District’s Heights Middle School and Martinez Elementary took second and third place in the challenge.

The top three winners received mini-grants from CEI’s Colorado STEM Champions Boeing and Oracle Academy. Ball Corporation., ISSAC Corp., Lockheed Martin, the Colorado Technology Association, and Edovate Capital also worked in partnership with educators on project design. (Colorado STEM Champions are companies, foundations, and individual donors contributing time, talent, and financial resources to implement the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap.)

“To make STEM and computer science engaging, students must have classroom opportunities to work on real-world projects that reflect challenges faced by scientists, software developers, data analysts, and other STEM professionals every day,” said Oracle Academy vice president Alison Derbenwick Miller. “We were delighted to support the CEI STEM Design Challenge, which was a terrific opportunity for industry experts to partner with innovative educators to develop and implement creative and relevant projects for Colorado students.”

In addition to the top three winners, other STEM Design Challenge participants included:

  • Dream Makers, Colorado Springs D11, Kimberly Hill
  • Eighth-grade career exploration, Colorado Springs D11, Lori Waddle
  • Gypsum Creek Middle, Eagle County Schools, Katie Lunde
  • Holmes Middle School, Colorado Springs D11, Christina Rochelle
  • McAuliffe Elementary Robotics Club, Colorado Springs D11, Jay Stutz
  • Normandy stream reclamation project, Jeffco Public Schools, Andrea Mesac
  • Rocky Mountain Science Center, Eagle County Schools, Amanda Hewitt
  • Scott Elementary, Colorado Springs D11, Scott Detloff
  • Stratton Elementary, Colorado Springs D11, Julie Edner

Learn more about and support these programs on the Colorado STEM website.

STEM Mentorship Pilot Announced, Applications Accepted Through Aug. 13

The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin are donating their time, talent, and financial resources to Colorado middle school classrooms. At the 2016 CEI Showcase, these two CEI Colorado STEM Champions announced the launch of a STEM mentorship pilot in a partnership with CEI and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) to measure the impact and outcomes of industry and school partnerships.

“The STEM mentorship pilot will provide an opportunity to learn about the needs of business volunteers and schools. This will help us learn how to build sustainable partnership models to widen the talent pipeline into our STEM workforce,” said UNC’s Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein, executive director of education innovation.

Three to five schools will be selected to participate in the pilot to implement project-based learning STEM classes. STEM industry professionals will work with teachers to create projects that solve real-world, industry-designed challenges. The pilot will reach 75-125 students. Apply now or before Saturday, August 13, 2016, for an opportunity to join the pilot.

“We know that partnerships among industry professionals, teachers, and schools lead to the development of real-world skills and competencies for students and leadership development for STEM professionals,” said Lockheed Martin’s Blake Davis.

“Now we want to measure these outcomes and ensure our students and employees have access to high-quality partnership experiences. This will increase the number and diversity of Colorado learners who are prepared and excited to work for Colorado companies like Lockheed Martin.”

“Boeing is celebrating its Centennial this year,” said Boeing executive David Eddy. “Strategic investments in partnerships like this will help us build a future workforce and strong communities for the next 100 years. Beyond financial support, when we offer our time and employees’ talents to achieve a common goal, we create an opportunity to expand that learning and see a much greater impact,” he said.

About The Colorado Education Initiative

The Colorado Education Initiative is an independent nonprofit working in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, educators, schools, districts, and other public education stakeholders to accelerate educational improvement and innovation across Colorado. CEI envisions that every student in Colorado is prepared and unafraid to succeed in school, work, and life, and ready to take on the challenges of today, tomorrow, and beyond.

About Colorado STEM

Colorado STEM is a community-driven effort to develop and implement the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap, a plan designed to advance STEM education for all Colorado learners, meet business needs, and attract new companies to the state.