Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Announces Revolutionary New Assessment

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STEM Premier and Project Lead The Way (PTLW) have long been proud partners in their mission to enhance the student experience by opening doors and providing opportunities. PLTW students across the country have been leveraging the STEM Premier platform to showcase themselves to the world. 

That's why were excited to report that PLTW recently unveiled a new way of assessing student ability.

Until now, student assessment tools have tended to focus strictly on academic subject matter. While not flawed in and of themselves, a singular reliance on these assessments has left colleges, universities, and businesses in the dark when it comes to the holistic potential of the applicants they are considering. For example, an aptitude test will convey how proficient a student is in mathematics, but it cannot tell a potential employer how creative that same student may be. Or how well they problem-solve, communicate, and work with others. Skills which are very much desired by organizations all over the country spanning every industry.

PLTW resolved to tackle this problem head-on by designing an assessment tool which could effectively capture these “soft skills” while maintaining its emphasis in the fields of engineering, biomedical science, and computer science. The result, PLTW predicts, will revolutionize the way schools, employers, hiring managers, and scholarship providers evaluate the value of their candidates and applicants. “The ability to problem-solve, to think critically, to communicate, to collaborate – we really haven’t had a way to signal those skills to future employers,” says Dr. Vince Bertram, President and CEO of Project Lead The Way, “The new PLTW Assessment will allow us to do that.”

To help design this new tool, PLTW assembled a coalition of thirty-eight experts who are respected professionals in secondary education, higher education, and industry. This coalition consisted of deans, faculty members, hiring managers, CEOs, engineers, and others representing widely-respected entities such as Duke University, Vanderbilt University, NASA, FedEx, John Deere, and Eli Lilly. This PLTW Test Advisory Panel provided input as to which skills are the most valuable to their organizations. The final verdicts? Creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, ethical reasoning, and mindset.

Then, assisted by nationally recognized psychometricians, they figured out the best ways to measure those skills within the context of a standardized testing environment. Naturally - considering the nature of what they were measuring - they had to put their own problem-solving talents “to the test” and think outside the box.

The resulting assessment format is one which redefines standardized testing. It is interactive and utilizes simulations, video stimuli, situational judgment questions, and other types of challenges to measure the test-taker’s real world ability to apply their skills and knowledge. It effectively eliminates the possibility for students to “beat the system” by cramming. It also closes loopholes inherent in other standardized tests, such as “successful guessing.”

400,000 PLTW students across the country will take the assessment starting in the 2018-2019 school year, followed by an estimated 450,000 during the 2019-2020 school year. Upon completing the assessment, these students will have a comprehensive metric which will have a plethora of relevant applications, from scholarships to job opportunities.  

STEM Premier salutes PLTW and congratulates them on the creation of their new assessment. We believe that students are more than simply their academic test scores. Every student on the STEM Premier platform is unique in their own right. That's why STEM Premier allows student to add videos to their profile and provides a skills showcase section; so they can show off the talents that don't come across through a grade or test score!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Michigan

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 4,700+
  • Top College Interests: University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Grand Valley State University
  • Top Intended Majors: Pre-Med, Nursing, Computer Science

We're heading up to the Wolverine State for our newest State Spotlight for a closer look at STEM Premier students in Michigan. The Great Recession of 2008 hit the state of Michigan especially hard, and 2009 found the state in a severe economic rut. However, Michigan has resiliently bounced back and is now the nation's seventh-fastest growing economy. 

The manufacturing legacy of Michigan lives on, as that industry still represents the largest portion of the state's economy. However, economist have noted that diversification has been one of the factors in helping lift Michigan out of the economic mud. The finance industry, comprising 18% of the state's economy, is right behind manufacturing's 19%. Unemployment in Michigan is currently at a 20-year low. 

Michigan’s largest population of STEM Premier students is located in and around Detroit - which happens to be the hometown of our fantastic partner, SME - with other sizable pockets around Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Flint. However, STEM Premier students are all over the state including it's Northern tip in towns like Traverse City, and in the Upper Peninsula in places like Marquette. Its students tend to have their eyes on the healthcare industry as reflected by the number of related fields among their top career interests; many of them want to be nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, and healthcare support specialists. This is particularly true for STEM Premier user Onyewuchi Ndukwe, a rising high school senior from Detroit, who hopes to become an optometrist and one day return to her home country of Nigeria to create an organization which provides glasses and contact lenses. 

However, true to Michigan's economic legacy, mechanical engineering is also a top choice for the state's students. 

ACT’s 2017 Condition of STEM Report on Michigan indicates that 55% of Michigan’s high school seniors express an interest in STEM, which is above the national average. However, ACT warns, only 56 students who were assessed in the inventory indicated an interest in a career in math or science education. This indicates that the state may face a STEM educator shortage in the coming years. 

Learn more about STEM in Michigan by checking out ACT's full report.

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Mika Domingo

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last week, the spotlight was on Matthew Frost from Hood River, Oregon. This week, we're headed way out into the Pacific to shine it on Mika Domingo from Mililani, Hawaii! 

Mika envisions for herself a career in healthcare, and her passion for the field has already taken root. She has already served on the Teen Advisory Council for the Hawaii Meth Project and was involved with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii. She has also been a reliable volunteer for Kaiser Permanente, assisting in various departments such as the pediatrics ward. Recently, Mika was a qualifier for the 2017 HOSA International Leadership Conference for prepared speaking. 

She recently graduated as valedicatorian of her high school and will be attending Santa Clara Universtiy next fall as a Presidential Scholar. 

Read more about Mika below in her own words.

Mika Domingo

Senior

Mililani High School

Mililani, HI

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I am a competitive gymnast! I’ve been doing competitive gymnastics for about 12 years and I am currently a level 9 gymnast. This year I won the all-around state champion title for my age group, and qualified to compete in the Western National Championships. 

For fun, I like to...read and listen to musicals.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Vera Cáslavská. She was an Olympic gymnast, and at the 1968 Olympics she protested the invasion of her home country of Czechoslovakia on the podium.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my calculus teacher. I’ve had him for AP Calculus BC last year and Calculus 3 this year. He makes math class so enjoyable and I’m very grateful for him. This week, we are using differential equations to make mathematical models where vampires, humans and other species may peacefully coexist.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the Tamagotchi app

After high school, my next step is...to attend a four-year University (still undecided) to major in biomedical engineering.

In ten years, I see myself...hopefully working in the medical field doing a job I truly enjoy

My greatest dream is...to become a doctor. I’ve had this dream since I was about five years old, and it hasn’t changed yet. I’m not sure what I’d like to specialize in yet but the fields of immunology and infectious disease especially interest me.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...the endless opportunities that you can find on this website. I initially joined to explore HOSA’s opportunities, but I have encountered many other opportunities while using STEM Premier.

We hope for the best for you Mika, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Matthew Frost

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last time, our spotlight was all about Laura Mulrooney from Raleigh, North Carolina. Today, we're shining it on Matthew Frost from Hood River, Oregon!

An avid robotics enthusiast, Matthew has been a FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics World Championship competitor for two years running, and recently competed in Houston, Texas against other teams from all around the world.

His love for robotics drove him to design a mobile "Fab Lab" which he uses to visit local elementary schools to promote STEM and robotics. As a high school student, his proficiency in mathematics and science has allowed him to tutor college-level students. Talk about flipping the script! It's no wonder that he was voted ""Most Likely to Become The Next Einstein" by his classmates

Read more about Matthew below in his own words.

Matthew Frost

Senior

Hood River Valley High School

Hood River, OR

For fun, I like to...WORK WITH ROBOTICS! So much learning and life skills come out of these activities, and the innovation is so exciting.

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I love writing "To-Do" lists for just about anything. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to recycle the piece of paper with a bunch of completed tasks on it.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Albert Einstein or another scientist who has changed today's world. Watching them invent a brand new technology would be amazing.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...either my 8th grade math teacher who taught us calculus or my 11th/12th grade English teacher who "sometimes" gets off track to teach my class life lessons and important skills.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...a game called Psych to play with my robotics team. I highly recommend it for parties or large groups of people!

After high school, my next step is...to go to college and get a degree in engineering.

In ten years, I see myself...if all goes well, sitting on a beach in the Caribbean, watching the sun appear over the horizon. In reality, I'll probably be sitting at a desk late at night trying to finish up some cool engineering project.

My greatest dream is...helping humanity through engineering.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...the endless opportunities it has.

We hope for the best for you Matthew, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Laura Mulrooney

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

We caught up with Top 100 student Tyler Blake for our most recent spotlight. This week, it's all about Laura Mulrooney from Raleigh, North Carolina!

Laura is an enthusiast of the great outdoors who loves to get her hands dirty while exploring the world around her. She is a volunteer with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences where she has spent the past five years conducting research and presenting her findings. 

She also enjoys the fine arts, spending her free time in choral performance, playing the piano, and practicing several styles of dance. 

She has committed to attend the University of Florida where she intends to major in Geology and Earth Science. 

Read more about Laura below in her own words.

Laura Mulrooney

Senior

Millbrook High School

Raleigh, NC

 Laura pauses to snap a quick pic during a day-long hike in Yosemite during spring break.

Laura pauses to snap a quick pic during a day-long hike in Yosemite during spring break.

For fun, I like to...hang out and watch HGTV with my younger brother. 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I have fought Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD) in my right leg for years. But I have beat it and am able to walk again despite a time when I was told it was unlikely I would be able to. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt -they seem like such interesting people who managed to have such a humongous impact on the world and life I know today. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...was my 6th grade English teacher- I still use his tricks and techniques today, even in AP English!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s, 'Seafood Watch' app. If that doesn't describe me, I don't know what would lol. 

After high school, my next step is...to go to college in order to learn and explore the different pathways within geology, in order to best determine what I would like to devote my time and research to.

In ten years, I see myself...having built a strong career, that is ready to grow with a good circle of friends and family by my side.

My greatest dream is...to work at the Smithsonian museum as a paleontologist. Wouldn't that be the life!

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...that it allows me to keep all of my accomplishments in one place for whenever I need to pull them out for an application. It also helps me to hold myself accountable and keep everything I do up to my personal standards, all the while allowing me to see the future I am working towards. It's my constant reminder of why I do what I do!

We hope for the best for you Laura, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Tyler Blake

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

We caught up with Top 100 student Jake Chao for our most recent spotlight. This week, we're checking in with Tyler Blake from Provo, Utah. 

Music is a big part of Tyler's life, where he has distinguished himself in both instrumental and vocal performance. His talent on the piano has led him to perform in concert tours of Central America and Southeast Asia , and he has been honored for his ability at the state-wide level several times. He was also named to Utah's All-State Choir, and he serves as president of his school's choir team. Academically, Tyler has earned recognition as a National Merit Scholar as well as an AP Scholar with Distinction.  On the playing field, he serves as captain of his club soccer team. 

He has committed to attending Brigham Young University - where he was awarded the institution's selective Russell M. Nelson Scholarship - beginning this summer. He is interested in pursuing a future in both the musical and psychological fields. 

Read more about Tyler below in his own words.

Tyler Blake

Senior

Timpview High School

Provo, UT

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For fun, I like to...meet new people. I have always been fascinated by people. Everyone has a different story to tell, and each one is worth hearing.  

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I absolutely love animals. I have a pet dog named Chester, and he's definitely one of the highlights of every day. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Johann Sebastian Bach. Music is a large part of my life, and Bach is by far my favorite composer to play. It would be an amazing experience to meet him, learn from him, and get a firsthand account of how he composed and played. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my 11th grade english teacher, Mrs. VanOrden. She had a way of creating a classroom environment in which grades were not the focus. Instead, she was able to focus on learning to write, and learning to love writing. There was never any pressure to perform at a certain level. Just a love of writing that she was able to transfer to each of her students. I learned more in that class than I have in any other. 

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...GroupMe. I know it's super boring, but I don't really ever download apps on my phone. GroupMe just lets me have a simple and easy way to manage group texts with various organizations I am a part of. I'd rather be out doing something than looking at a new app on my phone. 

After high school, my next step is...attending Brigham Young University this summer. After this summer, I will be taking a break from college to serve a 2 year LDS mission, after which I will continue to pursue my educational goals at BYU. 

In ten years, I see myself...still in school, working on a doctorate degree. I also see myself married in ten years, possibly with a child. Family has always been a major part of my life, and will continue to be so in ten years.

My greatest dream is...to find a way that I can really make a difference in the world. Whether this is through humanitarian efforts, or simply through my career and research, I want to create a way that I can help thousands upon thousands of people improve their lives. Service has always brought me great joy, and I hope to be able to continue to find ways to serve more and more people throughout my life. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...it helps you to organize your portfolio. While completing college and scholarship applications throughout the last year, there was a lot of different aspects of my life that I needed to write about. STEM Premier gave me an opportunity to organize the highlights of my life in a concise and simple manner that helped me to organize my ideas for any essays I needed to write for college. 

We hope for the best for you Tyler, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Jake Chao

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last week, the spotlight was on Paige Davis from Kansas. Now it's Jake Chao who's next up! Hailing from Cypress, California, Jake has excelled both inside and outside the classroom. As a talented public speaker, Jake has competed on debate teams, mock trial teams, and was elected as student body president of his school. He was also named the Youth Leadership America Speaker of the Year. He is a National Merit Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. Athletically, he has been honored as a leader of his cross country team as well as his track and field team. 

Read more about Jake below in his own words.

Jake Chao

Senior

Oxford Academy

Cypress, CA

 Jake (left) with his friends after their annual Senior Citizens Prom, a dance they help coordinate, which allows students to dance and interact with the elderly at a local senior citizen center.  

Jake (left) with his friends after their annual Senior Citizens Prom, a dance they help coordinate, which allows students to dance and interact with the elderly at a local senior citizen center.  

For fun, I like to...run and watch MasterChef. I am slowly getting better at cooking! 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I am red-green colorblind! 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Jeff Bezos. After reading about Amazon in the book The Everything Store, I have taken Jeff Bezos as the model to follow in innovation and work ethic. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...Mr. Jun Cuenca. He truly cares for his students, and his dedication to the organizations he advises is beyond belief. Thank you Mr. Cuenca!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Attendify. I downloaded it to use at the HOSA State Leadership Conference in Anaheim!

After high school, my next step is...attend college at Stanford University. I hope to pursue a degree in economics and possibly create a startup. 

In ten years, I see myself...working hard in life to attain success. I might still be working for an education, but I hope to be making my way in the business world. 

My greatest dream is...to learn how to cook! I am slowly getting better at it, but I want to have one signature dish that I've mastered. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...its downloadable report of my profile! It works as a resume when I need to fill out other applications.

We hope for the best for you Jake, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Paige Davis

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last week, we shined the spotlight on Sophia Reck from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. This week, Paige Davis from Derby, Kansas takes center stage! One of the top students in the entire state, Paige is a highly engaged member of both Project Lead The Way and HOSA - Future Health Professionals who has committed to attend the University of North Texas. She was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal as one of their "Young Achievers" and was one of only three students from her high school to be named as a National Merit Finalist!

Read more about Paige below in her own words.

Paige Davis

Senior

Derby High School

Derby, KS

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For fun, I like to...binge-watch my favorite shows on Netflix or go to the movies. 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I am a self-proclaimed concert junkie. I have been to three in the last six months alone and I already have five more planned for the rest of the year--my bank account does not thank me. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...my favorite female scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who significantly contributed to our understanding of DNA, RNA, and viruses.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my Project Lead The Way biomedical pathway teacher, Mrs Long.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the puzzle game Monument Valley 2. 

After high school, my next step is...to go to the University of North Texas to pursue a degree in biology with a concentration in pre-med. 

In ten years, I see myself...beginning my first job in the 'real-world.' Though I know my plans may change throughout college, right now the plan is to become a medical researcher. 

My greatest dream is...to be able to have a home and work life that makes me happy and the ability to travel on a semi-regular basis. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...being able to organize all of my accomplishments in a neat and visually-pleasing format.

We hope for the best for you Paige, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Sophia Reck

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Sophia Reck is our first student in the spotlight. From marine biology to choral performance to the culinary arts, it's safe to say that Sophia has quite a range of hobbies! She is highly involved in her Pennsylvania community and has her eyes set on The Big Apple for college next fall. What a fantastic student to kick off our 2018 Top 100 spotlights! 

Read more about Sophia below in her own words.

Sophia Reck

Senior

Wyomissing Area High School

Wyomissing, PA

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For fun, I like to...learn about new cultures and then cook or bake their cuisine. I have a passion for both anthropology and cooking, so I like to combine them in my spare time. One of my favorite recipes was nian gao,  also known as Chinese New Year cake.

Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I traveled to New Brunswick the summer after my sophomore year to study marine biology— specifically whales and other marine mammals. Although I don’t want to pursue biology as my career, I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and its myriad of creatures.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Grace Hopper, widely regarded as one of the first computer scientists. Being a woman in STEM is difficult in 2018, so I can hardly imagine the courage and grit it took to be successful in the ‘50s and ‘60s! 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my computer science teacher, Mr. Minich. I entered his classroom as both the only freshman and only girl in his Java programming course. Without his help and encouragement, I would never have been able to accomplish all I have throughout my high school career.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the NYC Subway app. I will be spending my college years in the big apple (foreshadowing 101), so, I wanted to get acquainted with the metro system so I’m ready to go in the fall.

After high school, my next step is...to attend New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering for Computer Science. As I alluded to in the previous answer, New York City is going to be my new home for at least the next four years. Go Violet!

In ten years, I see myself...as a project manager for a technology company in New York or another large northeastern city. My dream employer is Google, but I’m sure that’s true for lots of people! If someone from Google reads this, I’d love to meet up since I’ll be very close to your New York headquarters soon!

My greatest dream is...be able to inspire other girls to pursue their interest in STEM. I realize that not many people had access to the wonderful opportunities I did during high school, so working towards availability of technology for all is still imperative. Hopefully, by the time I’m finished, being a woman in STEM will just be the norm!

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...being able to connect and interface with plenty of colleges, companies, and other engaged high schoolers. It’s an amazing resource that I’d recommend to any ambitious and driven student.

We hope for the best for you Sophia, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Releases 2018 Top 100 Students

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It's once again that time of year! And so it is with much pride and excitement that we announce STEM Premier’s 4th annual Top 100 rankings: The 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

 This year, over 350,000 STEM Premier student users attending over 19,000 high schools from across the country competed for a place in the Top 100, making this accomplishment a testament to the Top 100’s academic and extracurricular endeavors.

 This year’s Top 100 features students from 29 different states, with the most highly represented states being Texas and California. High school seniors comprised roughly 75% of the top 100, but twenty-two juniors also made the list. An additional handful of talented sophomores also earned the distinction.

 Top 100 students are comprised of valedictorians, National Merit Scholar Finalists, AP Scholars,Science Olympiad Champions, Girl Scouts & Eagle Scouts, Presidential Scholars, and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) students.

What makes the STEM Premier Top 100 unique is the diversity of educational and professional paths represented. While many of the Top 100 plan to attend a traditional four-year university - including reputable schools such as Stanford and MIT - others will be continuing their STEM education at two-year technical schools and community colleges in fields such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, and healthcare. The result is an elite group of students who reflect the shifting realities of the U.S. economic, educational, and professional environments. 

 How are students chosen for the Top 100? We utilize a unique algorithm which accounts for over 30 different factors from each student’s profile. This process quantifies and synthesizes the profile information and creates a star rating for each individual student. Students considered for the Top 100 are then contacted and verified to ensure accuracy and integrity of the information added to their STEM Premier profile.

 While we are proud to announce this year’s Top 100, we would also like to recognize every single one of the 350,000+ students on STEM Premier’s platform who are pursuing their educational and professional dreams. We wish all the best of luck as you shoot for the stars!

 Click here to view the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100

STEM Premier Spotlight: Oklahoma

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 3,500+
  • Top College Interests: University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Tulsa
  • Top Intended Majors: Nursing, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Computer Science

April’s State Spotlight takes us to the Midwest and the Sooner State for a closer look at STEM Premier students in Oklahoma. The vast plains of Oklahoma may mislead you into believing that the state primarily is focused on agriculture, but that would be inaccurate.

The public sector currently comprises the largest portion of Oklahoma’s economy, accounting for roughly 16% of the state’s GDP in 2016. Outside of the government, mining, manufacturing, trade, and finance are Oklahoma’s predominant industries. Oklahoma’s economy has steadily grown over the past fifteen years, and now comprises a larger portion of the total U.S. economy than it did in 2002.

Oklahoma’s largest population of STEM Premier students is located in the state capitol of Oklahoma City, while other hubs exist in Tulsa and Norman. Its students tend to have their eyes on the healthcare industry as reflected by the number of related fields among their top career interests; many of them want to be nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, and healthcare support specialists.

ACT’s 2017 Condition of STEM Report on Oklahoma indicates that 47% of Oklahoma’s high school seniors express an interest in STEM, which is in line with the national average. However, the report notes, only 16% of students had both an expressed interest in STEM as well as an ACT Interest Inventory score which indicated proficiency in a STEM field. This may foreshadow a dearth of in-state STEM talent in the coming years; something STEM employers may want to take note of.

Learn more about STEM in Oklahoma by checking out ACT's full report.

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Social Sciences

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In recent posts, we shed some light on some of the career interests of STEM Premier student members. Now we’re delving deeper into select industries to see exactly what careers students have on their radar. Today, we’re looking at the social sciences.

 Although the social sciences and humanities have recently been the object of some derision - especially amid the debate over how well U.S. universities are adequately preparing students for work in the modern economy - they are still extremely relevant. The social sciences are comprised of a variety of disciplines delving into the “softer” aspects of our world - as opposed to “hard” sciences such as physics, chemistry, or biology. These include cultural, sociological, and historical research areas.

 Here’s just a few examples of the social science occupations which have captured the attention of STEM Premier students:

  • Archaeologists
  • Economists
  • Historians
  • Geographers
  • Political Scientists
  • Anthropologists

Is your school or organization looking for these kinds of students? If so, join STEM Premier today and start connecting.

 

Imaginations "Rohming" Wild: Homeschooled Robotics Team Heads to World Championship

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Rohming Robots runs on passion. And now this motivated group of home-schooled students is taking that passion to the world stage.

Established in 2014 by Head Coach Linda Stewart, Rohming Robots - a Charleston, South Carolina-based robotics team - will be heading to Houston, Texas in April to compete against thousands of like-minded students in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship.

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FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC for short) is a competitive robotics league which pits grade 7-12 students against each other in a head-to-head format. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots. Assisted by coaches and mentors, the teams build their mechanical “athletes” with pieces made of various materials, and use sensors and programs to execute their gameplans. Teams are also required to keep an engineering notebook; a log of the team’s construction process from the first blueprint sketches to the last screw.

What makes Roaming Robots unique is who they are. The team is comprised entirely of homeschooled and virtual students ranging from 8th to 12th grade. The team divides responsibilities based on their interests and skills; a strategy they say keeps the process fun for everyone involved. It’s not just nuts, bolts, and programming which are involved in the process. The team also has roles for important non-technical duties such as community outreach and fundraising.  

“Every year, they want to do a little more,” says Stewart, “go a little farther.”

And go farther they did.

A 4-H project club primarily sponsored by STEM Premier partner SME, Rohming Robots received FTC’s Think Award, honoring the best engineering notebook from among 72 teams. That achievement earned them their spot in the World Championship next month. Their competitive robot - named Tod - was custom-built using machined and 3-D printed parts.

Rohming Robots recently became one of STEM Premier’s newest organizations to join our online community. This will allow its team members to gain access to the same types of opportunities which tend to benefit students from more traditional K-12 backgrounds. We’re excited to know that these students will be able to let their passion and talent shine forth, and find opportunities they may have not otherwise realized.

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Stewart is excited for her young team. "I reviewed all the ways that club members can use STEM premier to help them connect with local businesses to better explore their interests, with colleges they are interested in, and with potential internships and employers for their future careers," she says.

"Team members are excited about showcasing their specific talents and interests using their STEM Premier profiles and adding the SME badge to their profiles because of the long history of support our local chapter has given us.”

After all, it’s not just about the mechatronics. The talents of Rohming Robot’s members extend far beyond the robotics wrestling ring, ranging from collaborative teamwork to project management to public speaking. It takes all sorts of skill sets to run a successful team. And these students are making it happen!

STEM Premier wishes the entire Rohming Robots team good luck in Houston!

ACT Releases 2017 Report on The Condition of STEM

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This week, our partner ACT released their 2017 edition of The Condition of STEM report.

Using comprehensive data gathered from the U.S. high school graduating class of 2017, ACT compiles and organizes the report in order to analyze the current landscape of student interest and achievement in STEM. The report is designed to assist stakeholders - such as educational organizations and industry-leaders -  to better understand this landscape and drive their own efforts to improve educational and workplace success.

This year’s report highlights several key findings and trends; some encouraging and some worrisome. For example, ACT’s data reveals that the oft-referenced STEM gender gap continues to persist. It also finds that physical geography plays a critical role in STEM achievement; a phenomenon we delved into last month.

However, for each of these areas of concern, ACT features “promising practices” gleaned from states, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations who are committed to making a difference. One such practice featured is the 100kin10  designed to address the critical shortage of STEM teachers in our nation’s schools.

The report concludes by providing several policy recommendations to be considered by government leaders, such as establishing loan-forgiveness programs for STEM educators.

In addition to the overall report, The Condition of STEM is also examined on a state-by-state basis. In fact, these are the same reports which we reference in our state spotlight blog series; New York was our most recent!

As part of our collaboration with ACT in compiling the 2017 Condition of STEM, each state report contains an example of a STEM Premier student user residing there.

This year’s report is yet another example of ACT’s commitment to driving STEM success in the U.S.

STEM Premier Spotlight: New York

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 5,100+
  • Top College Interests: Cornell University, Stony Brook University, New York University, Columbia University, SUNY at Binghamton
  • Top Intended Majors: Biology, Bioengineering, Computer Science

Our next state spotlight take us to the Empire State for a closer look at STEM Premier students in New York. Powered by the immense hub of human activity that is New York City, New York possesses the third-largest economy in the U.S., behind only California and Texas. It’s economy is as diverse as it is large, with strong representation in healthcare, education, construction, hospitality, retail services, tourism, banking, and legal services.

New York’s largest population of STEM Premier students is concentrated - of course - in New York City, home to one of STEM Premier's newest collegiate partners - The Cooper Union. Other hubs of students exist in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and Binghamton. However, students can indeed be found in every corner of the state, including as far north as Massena and Plattsburgh.

ACT’s 2016 Condition of STEM Report on New York shows that overall STEM interest has grown significantly from 46% of students in 2012 to 50% in 2016. Most states have exhibited only modest increases (or even decreases) during that span. 50% student interest in New York now outpaces the national average of 48%. This rise seems primarily driven by growing student interest in engineering, mathematics, and computer science fields.

STEM Premier’s own data reflects this shift. Among STEM Premier’s New York students, three of the most popular career interests include computer programming, mechanical engineering, and computer science.

Learn more about STEM in New York by checking out ACT's full report.

New Report Identifies Vital Skills for the Future of the Workforce

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As the world’s economy continues to evolve, the skills and practices necessary to keep pace are evolving with it. STEM Premier has been there every step of the way offering students, job-seekers, and organizations a new and better way to engage each other. 

What's the evidence?  Recently, the California-based think tank Institute for the Future teamed up with the talent-management software company Cornerstone OnDemand to identify a short list of skills which will be vital for tomorrow’s professionals.

Two specific skills stood out in the joint report. They stood out because, not only are they important for students and young professionals to understand, but also for the schools and businesses who seek to attract them to their organizations and institutions.  

They are also exactly what STEM Premier was designed for. 

Make yourself known

“Brands aren’t for celebrities anymore,” the report notes. Hard copy resumes are making their last stand in a ever-evolving digital environment. Online professional platforms are quickly becoming the new standard. The reasons are obvious. Digital formats are easier to work with and share. They allow for greater flexibility and are much more dynamic. They allow applicants and job seekers the opportunity to uniquely express themselves and show off their talents by uploading videos, attaching documents, and more. These online profiles also allow schools and employers to find exactly the type of candidates they are looking for, and can truly get to know the person they are accepting or hiring. Simply put, everyone wins.

STEM Premier allows everyone - including organizations - to tailor their profile in order to make them stand out. 

Build your tribe

Industries and institutions can change rapidly, but the practice of building and maintaining personal networks will always be critical. Online platforms allow organizations to cut straight through traditional barriers - such as geography - to find and connect with the talent they need. As online platforms become the norm, the barriers which have prevented talented individuals from being noticed will crumble. The end result will be an environment in which the most qualified applicants are found and engaged every day around the globe.

STEM Premier provides a way for organizations and individuals to reach out and connect with each other. Forget jobs and college fairs; take your talent search directly to the prospects you are most interested in!

 

STEM Premier is proud to be part of the vanguard of this revolution. The future is coming. Is your organization ready?

Connecting America's Rural Students with Higher Education

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As debate intensifies over the future of higher education in the U.S., much of the focus has centered around the issue of racial and ethnic diversity. However, there is substantial constituency of America’s K-12 students who are going largely ignored: students from the country’s rural areas.

A recent NPR piece - based on findings from The Hechinger Report - highlights this glaring issue. It is highlighted by an alarming statistic. Despite the fact that rural students graduate from high school at a greater rate than the national average, they attend college at lower rates than their urban and suburban peers.

There have been many causes attributed to this phenomenon. Mining, farming, and manufacturing jobs which used to be a hallmark of rural economies have either moved away, become automated, or shut down entirely. The result is that there are simply less opportunities in the communities these students grow up in. Paradoxically, instead of seeking out opportunities in larger cities, most rural students find themselves as products of their environment and lose hope that opportunity awaits them. Like all good sons and daughters, they also want to stay close to home. 

Acknowledging this issue "is critical to our future, not just for employment but for civil discourse and kids feeling like they can contribute and achieve and not feeling lost and ignored," says Jeff Hawkins, executive director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a nonprofit group which encourages students in Kentucky’s coal-mining southeast corner to go to college.

As we’ve noted before in a previous blog post, STEM Premier understands this challenge, and is one of our foremost priorities towards achieving educational equality in the U.S. for all students.

STEM Premier provides that crucial “missing link” for colleges to recruit in rural areas. Oftentimes, college recruiters are pressured to maximize their scarce time and resources. As as result, they typically visit more highly-populated areas where they can interact with the highest number of students. Rural students become “landlocked” and isolated from these opportunities. Some of America’s brightest students are going unnoticed.

Using our platform, colleges and universities can eliminate geographic boundaries and engage these rural students in an online ecosystem. Not only does this save educational institutions time and money, but it meets these young digital natives where they are: on their mobile devices which have become ubiquitous regardless of where they reside.  

President Calls for Expansion of Vocational Education in State of the Union Address

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President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address on January 30 was laden with bold visions and plans for the country. For proponents and advocates of vocational education, one particular statement stood out during the eighty-minute speech.

“Let's invest in workforce development,” he began, “and let's invest in job training, which we need so badly. Let's open great vocational schools, so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.”

This proclamation was music to the ears of many who believe that too much emphasis has recently been placed on traditional four-year degrees which has left trade and vocational education neglected. Workforce statistics show that gaping holes still persist in filling jobs which require vocational training and trade education.

NPR Education Correspondent Anya Kamenetz - commenting on Trump’s statement - elaborated further on how the U.S. government is currently addressing this pressing issue. She notes that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos supports expanding vocational education, and she recently spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the range of innovations she would like to see, such as “industry-recognized certifications, two-year degrees, stackable credits, credentials and licenses, advanced degrees, badges, four-year degrees, microdegrees” and “apprenticeships.”

The Senate is also currently holding committee hearings on the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act by which the nation’s student financial aid system operates.

New Research Reveals STEM Workforce Trends

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A recently published report by the Pew Research Center has shed light on some intriguing trends in regards to STEM employment and education in the U.S. While some of the findings may be old news or simply confirmation of already widely-accepted beliefs, the research nevertheless provides some interesting data.

Utilizing U.S. Census Bureau data, the report focused primarily on STEM primarily as it relates to gender and ethnic diversity. However, some broads trends are also revealed. Here are just a few of the major conclusions presented by the report.

  1. The STEM workforce continues to grow: From 1990 to 2016, employment in the STEM fields has grown a remarkable 79%, from approximately 9.7 million workers to 17.3 million. While a large fraction of STEM professionals work in the healthcare industry, most of this growth has occurred in the area of computer science. Employment growth in this area was an astronomical 338% between 1990 and 2016. This comes as no suprise to us at STEM Premier, where many of our student users have indicated professional interests in both the healthcare and computer science areas.

  2. Roughly 1 in 3 STEM workers do not possess a bachelor’s degree: Although most people would tend to associate STEM workers with high levels of education, the truth is that many STEM positions are being filled by individuals who possess the necessary skills, despite lacking a four-year degree. In fact, 35% of the STEM workforce lacks a bachelor’s degree. 15% report having an associate degree and 14% report having some college education but no degree.

  3. The representation of women varies by STEM discipline: Females represent roughly 75% of healthcare practitioners and technicians. Of the 9 million workers in the industry, nearly 6.7 million of them are female. However, in other areas, female representation is much smaller. This is most marked in engineering (14%) and computer science (25%) industries.

When it comes to the next generation of talented professionals, STEM Premier is on the front lines. That means we are in a unique position to foresee many of these trends playing out. But it also means that we are able to see new trends developing. For instance, despite the low representation of females in the engineering and computer science fields, many female students on our platform have indicated interest in these career areas.

Want to find out who they are? Create an account and start connecting today!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Nickie Daves

We’ve recently been spotlighting some of the incredible K-12 educators we have had the privilege of working with. These are energetic, forward-thinking, and fun individuals who have implemented the STEM Premier platform in their schools, districts, and counties.

Nickie Daves is a health science teacher who encourages her students to utilize STEM Premier to help gain access to scholarships and internship opportunities. Let’s check out what she has to say!

                              Nickie Daves, RN, CCRN                         Floyd. D. Johnson Technology Center                                   York School District                                   York, South Carolina

                            Nickie Daves, RN, CCRN

                     Floyd. D. Johnson Technology Center

                               York School District

                               York, South Carolina

How did you get into education? What drew you to the profession?
I am actually a registered nurse, by trade. For Health Science, a healthcare professional is requested to teach the course. Being a nurse involves educating patients on a daily basis. I found that I really enjoyed that portion and knew that I would one day transition into education. I love seeing the light bulb going off and being able to help the learner take charge of the information that they learn. I never thought I would teach students in the secondary field, but I love it very much.

What is your favorite thing about education?
I enjoy working with the next generation of healthcare professionals. I love building the relationships with the students which will continue on in future courses.  

Tell us about your school!
I work for York School District One in the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center. Our technology center and high school are together within the same building, which decreases many barriers that would exist if the two sections were not comprehensive. A student can leave their English class and then go straight to a building & construction class.

How is STEM Premier helping/will help your school or district?
It’s a wonderful asset offered to the students in the way of scholarship opportunities, internships, and showcasing their accomplishments. All sophomores and juniors are exposed to STEM Premier and create an account. They are encouraged to keep their accounts up-to-date and utilize them to highlight themselves for post-secondary opportunities.

Any neat stories so far?
Students are always so excited to let the staff know that certain schools have viewed their account or that they have been offered internships!

How did you implement STEM Premier? Are there any suggestions you would have for  other schools on how to best implement STEM Premier?
I teach courses within the Health Science cluster, which are classified as elective courses. Despite this, I always encourage my students to complete community service projects, continue to build their resumes, and to search constantly for scholarships. Our community has a poverty rate of over 70%, so it is imperative that students have the ability to attend schools once they are accepted. I give numerous assignments for the students to submit proof of scholarships completions to me. Most of the students go through STEM Premier to do so.

What is your favorite part of the system?
The ability to export all of my profile data into a ready-to-use resume.

What is the future impact that STEM Premier will have on your school or district?
I believe its social media-like functionality will keep it relevant with the current generation who will soon be entering the workforce. During my advisory meetings - which include healthcare members within my community - I have recommended that their companies utilize STEM Premier to help reduce the impact of the impending nursing shortage.