In order for New Mexico to be globally competitive in an innovation economy, we must have a reliable talent pipeline producing well-qualified STEM-competent workers. Although many ask “What is STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, we ask “What isn’t STEM”? What jobs in our country do NOT require science and math competencies, the use of technology in all we do, critical thinking skills, computational thinking skills, project based learning and working virtually to solve issues and problems, whether you are an agriculture farmer or working to solve defense issues in our National Labs?
The STEM challenge in New Mexico goes beyond the realm of college and career readiness. Its solution will rest in the hands of a broader set of partners than just our PK-20 leaders. Business and industry, community leaders, school boards members and families must be part of the conversation in a meaningful and sustainable way.
Several efforts are progressing under the NM STEM umbrella. Although many STEM efforts exist in New Mexico, many are one-dimensional and siloed-- addressing the STEM challenge through the lens of a single organization. Innovate+Educate launched the NM STEM Network to help connect the great work of so many, to challenge all of the public and private sector partners to collaborate at a new level, a level that challenges all of us to think in a new way. The NM STEM Network will work to bring partnerships between education leaders, school boards, entrepreneurs, economic development organizations, businesses, statewide chambers, non-profits and STEM programs with an end goal of college and career readiness for all New Mexico students. The NM STEM Network defines rigor as: relevance, college success and career success. Teachers must re-tool for rigor and relevance, and there must be community and regional buy-in that all students will then have opportunities for college and career success.
The first HUB of the NM STEM Network was launched in September 2010. This regional HUB will serve as a pilot incubator for a statewide model for STEM education. Funding partners include Lockheed Martin, Intel Corporation, Monster Worldwide, Battelle Corporation, TIES Teach, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation. Partner organizations of the Southern HUB include NMSU College of Education, NMSU RETA, the NM Museum of Space History, Spaceport America, Dona Ana Community College, Gadsden, Las Cruces and Hatch Schools, NMSTE, and approximately 9 rural districts in the Southern part of the State. A partnership is underway with Paso del Norte Group to connect the southern region of New Mexico and El Paso and provide job opportunities for our youth in the region. Education 360 is being implemented at Chaparral Middle and High School in Gadsden School District. The Seamless Summer of STEM planning is underway to provide STEM opportunities throughout the summer for youth in the Southern HUB.
With this work, Innovate+Educate as lead of the NM STEM Network will:
- Increase awareness of the STEM challenge, serving as the voice of collaboration and innovation in education;
- Create partnerships and collaborative efforts between education and workforce;
- Bring consistency, efficiency, and synergy to existing STEM programs (rather than creating new ones);
- Continually assess and improve the STEM environment, jobs and opportunities;
The NM STEM Network will:
- Continue to participate in an ongoing dialogue with other States and national STEM efforts to share best practices;
- Provide a platform for scaling the NM STEM Network beyond the Southern HUB;
- Be responsible for advocacy, marketing, PR and regional implementation of statewide HUBS with existing partners;
- Will continue to work closely with our partners including the Offices of Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Senator Tom Udall, and Senator Jeff Bingaman, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices STEM, and the NM Math and Science Bureau Advisory Council – Project 2012.
Innovate+Educate believes that New Mexico’s future prosperity and competitive position will be won or lost based on the quality of our human capital and our collective capacity for leadership in innovation. We believe the NM Statewide STEM Network will energize and synergize our efforts towards the successful fulfillment of this vision.