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STEM students excel in corporate programs.

Companies that have invited science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) inclined students to participate in formal workplace programs over the years have had such positive experiences that some are now housing education programs at their facilities.


GE Consumer and Industrial's lighting business in East Cleveland, Ohio, is one such firm, and in 2009 the [MC.sup.2] STEM High School opened its doors on the company's Nela Park campus.

Sonya Pryor-Jones is executive director of the Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium ([MC.sup.2]) for STEM, a partnership between Cleveland area school districts, colleges and universities, corporations, and the city's cultural, public and philanthropic institutions. The Cleveland Hub is one of five state-wide regional hubs that form the Ohio STEM Learning Network, a program managed by Battelle and co-funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Cleveland Hub consists of the [MC.sup.2] STEM High School as well as the Design Lab Early College High School, and was formed to create innovative teaching and learning opportunities for students across the region and to impact the work force's retooled and emerging industries, said Pry-or-Jones. She describes the design of the Hub's education model as being aimed at "galvanizing people around a desire to change education in a big way."

Students who have graduated from 8th grade apply online and are selected by lottery. The 170 students attending the [MC.sup.2] High School range from those who have not yet found their niche courses of study to those who are at the top of their classes.

"GE was the first corporate partner to embed the school's 10th grade students on their campus, with the Great Lakes Science Center embedding the school's 9th grade students this year," said Pryor-Jones. "The sustainability of our model depends on the working relationship and engagement with the Hub's partners," she said. "Creating transferable skills from the classroom to the work force is our main objective. It's less about stats, more about culture."

Teachers facilitate trans-disciplinary projects that combine the STEM disciplines, social studies, visual art, English language arts and Mandarin Chinese with real-life business, technical and scientific challenges.

Principal Jeff McClellan described a project focusing on DNA diversity and design, which culminated in students doing research at Biosphere 2, an enclosed environment for scientific research at Oracle, Ariz. In addition to studying samples and reproducible organisms, students also created soil-extraction robots and wrote accounts in the style of Rudyard Kipling's illustrated Just So stories to creatively explain their findings.

"STEM is where the future is, and our trans-disciplinary curriculum will prepare our students for jobs that don't even exist yet," he said.

Andrea Timan, GE STEM/community programs manager, said that each student is assigned a "GE Buddy" to serve as a mentor. STEM students also receive tutoring by GE employees, and 80 percent of the tutored freshmen who took the mandatory state graduation test passed their employee-tutored subjects on their first try, said Timan.

GE plans to expand its involvement with the [MC.sup.2] STEM High School by enlisting more volunteers, continuing to help students prepare for college exams and improving programs. A new 25-day course for sophomores led by GE employees guides student teams through the business process model from defining a new product for the market to creating a working, energy-efficient light emitting diode fixture such as a desk lamp, or a different solar or kinetic energy-powered device.

Perhaps most impressive is the enthusiasm of the [MC.sup.2] STEM students themselves. "The hands-on approach to learning is what makes this experience different," said one 10th grade student. "I couldn't imagine going back to a traditional high school after being here."

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Cynthia D. Miller is president of Miller.Omni.Media, Inc., a woman-owned small business specializing in strategic communications, marketing and media production. She can be reached at
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Title Annotation:STEM NEWS
Comment:STEM students excel in corporate programs.(STEM NEWS)
Author:Miller, Cynthia D.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Feb 1, 2010
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