With a projected shortage of professionals in fields that cover the principles of STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, there has been a great push among educators, business leaders, and professionals throughout America to promote and inform students about educational and career opportunities available in those areas. Recognizing this national problem, the Florida Department of Education’s Race to the Top funding proposal had a variety of components to help address this issue. One of the projects that came about as a result of Florida’s vision to meet the STEM Challenge is the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars initiative for gifted and talented high school students from the small and rural school districts of Florida. This project was recognized when the Florida Department of Education Community of Practice held its “Race to the Top District Showcase” on October 19th to spotlight some of Florida’s successful Race to the Top Projects and school district best practices
Representing the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Project was a group of Stem Scholars from Taylor County High School in Perry, Florida. These students provided details about their successful eight-day STEM Workplace Experience at Buckeye Technologies, Inc. which was sponsored by the initiative. Jesika Curry, STEM Mentor Teacher and teacher leader for the experience and students Daniel Dudley, Evan Grambling, Eric Morgan, Grant Parker and Dylan Strickland spoke about how this workplace experience impacted the students’ career choices, added relevance to academic courses, and motivated students to return to school with an even greater academic focus. Ja’Marcus Robertson, another Taylor County High School student, spoke about the project’s Summer NanoChallenge at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee and a week-long Immersion into STEM Experience on the campus of the University of Florida.
For a closer look at the activities and experiences of the students from the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Initiative visit the project’s website at http://floridalearnsstemscholars.org/. There you will find updated news and information about STEM topics and project activities from Florida's three educational consortia, the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, Heartland Educational Consortium, and the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium, that are all partners in the project. While you are on the website, you will want to visit the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Video Journal at http://floridalearnsstemscholars.org/video-journal-timeline/ to view the sights, sounds, and personal testimonies of the students, and partners who are part of the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Scholars project.