“We need to stop asking children what they want to be and start asking, what problems do you want to solve?” Dr. Cindy Moss

The past, present and future of STEM education was on full display March 10th, at the E.S. Good Barn Building on the University of Kentucky Campus.

KY NSF EPSCoR co-hosted the state’s first-ever STEM Leadership Forum, along with Discovery Education. Discovery Education is the leading provider of digital curriculum resources, digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms worldwide and is inspired by Discovery Inc., whose networks include Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel.

The forum, attended by administrators, teachers, and scientists from 14 counties across Kentucky, explored best practices for building and sustaining a culture of STEM teaching and learning. This was highlighted by keynote speaker Dr. Cindy Moss, Discovery Education’s Vice President of Global STEM Initiatives. She is a nationally respected thought leader in STEM education, with over 21 years of leadership experience.

Dr. Moss took her attendees through the challenges, strategies, and psychology of STEM education in a K-12 environment, creating a hands-on, interactive experience for the Kentucky educators.

“STEM is a culture. We believe every kid needs to be a problem solver, so every kid needs to be a STEM learner and every teacher needs to be a STEM teacher,” said Dr. Moss.

The STEM Leadership Forum is supported by KY NSF EPSCoR’s new $24 million project, Kentucky Advanced Partnership for Enhanced Robotics and Structures (full story here) . In addition to supporting next generation advanced manufacturing, this collaborative partnership across eight Kentucky colleges and universities also supports the development of a greater STEM-literate workforce. Dr. Moss recognized manufacturing as large piece of the economic future for our nation’s STEM students:

“If manufacturing were a country, it would have the 9th largest economy in the world. We need to tell our kids about this, because manufacturing is where nuch of the innovation in our country is happening.”

Because manufacturing companies are looking for STEM skills—for problem solvers—Dr. Moss believes it is imperative that work must be done with school districts to get the word out.

“Right now, manufacturing is a hotbed (for STEM) for kids with all kinds of STEM skills…lots of innovation opportunities and lots of opportunities for advancement…Manufacturing is one of those areas that schools have typically omitted from their curriculum, and we’re going to work really hard with them to use (manufacturing) as a context for STEM teaching and learning.”

As KY NSF EPSCoR continues its vision to advance, encourage and develop long-term improvements in scientific discovery, innovation and education throughout the Commonwealth, it is proud to collaborate with partners like Discovery Education and we appreciate their message and efforts.

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