NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Metro Nashville Public Schools has been named a leader in the state- wide effort to prepare young people for STEM-related careers, one of the fastest growing business sectors in the world.
Demonstrating the new leadership role, Stratford STEM Magnet High School recently hosted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman as they announced three new Tennessee schools focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in Hamilton, Putnam and Sullivan counties.
The district was previously awarded $850,000 by the Tennessee Department of Education to develop and implement a Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub. The Hub will support student learning through engaging and rigorous STEM instruction, engage adults in a professional learning community; and create a network of community partners who will help develop or accelerate innovative strategies for regional STEM initiatives.
One of the community partners includes Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering. The college is now focused on helping Stratford STEM Magnet High School develop a computer simulation and gaming laboratory. With academic tracks in science and engineering, Stratford students can now pursue career pathways in national security, computer simulation and gaming, automotive operations and green technology.
“We believe it is important for higher education to be engaged in the promotion of STEM careers, and support K-12 as feeders to our academic programs,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering at TSU. “It is crucial to U.S. competitiveness and preparing a workforce for tomorrow.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Sharon Matthews, Academy Coach at TSU, a task force was developed to provide expertise on designing the laboratory of hardware and software, and assisting with the curriculum.
Dr. Hargrove, along with Dr. Sachin Shetty, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, serves on the Task Force for the integration of the simulation game and the design of the new laboratory. The Task Force also includes Lipscomb University and industry representatives.
A TSU-Rowan University project will also provide training for Stratford teachers in gaming and simulation from a grant from the National Science Foundation.
In the fall of 2011, Metro Schools became the first district in Tennessee to offer a K-12 STEM continuum. Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary, Bailey STEM Magnet Middle, Isaac Litton Middle, and Stratford STEM Magnet High opened as result of a $12 million Magnet School Assistance Program Grant. These magnet programs, along with the Academies of Nashville, were key to the selection of Metro Schools to lead the development of The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub.
The Hub will foster collaboration and conversation between public schools, STEM businesses, and higher education to identify the needs of each partner and find innovative ways to fulfill those needs. The ideas and opportunities will be shared throughout middle Tennessee and strategically connected to the Tennessee STEM Innovation network, a statewide collaboration aimed at increasing STEM education and opportunities for our youth.
The Hub has an extensive list of partners who will be key to helping the Hub reach its goals. The existing partners are well respected throughout middle Tennessee and the global STEM community.
Along with Tennessee State University, they include:
- Vanderbilt University, Center for Science Outreach
- Lipscomb University
- Fisk University
- Nashville State Community College
- Volunteer State Community College
- Tennessee Tech University
- Austin Peay State University
- Middle Tennessee State University
- Robertson County Schools
- Cheatham County Schools
- Alignment Nashville
- PENCIL Foundation
- Hospital Corporation of America
- Deloitte Services LP
- Ford Motor Company Fund
- Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publisher
- Adventure Science Center
- ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc.
- Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory
- Tennessee Engineering Foundation
- Nashville Branch, American Society of Civil Engineers
- Tennessee Business Roundtable
- Geospatial Learning Model
“The aim of the STEM Innovation Hub is to create a forum for public schools, higher education, and the business community to share needs, ideas and best practices,” said Dr. Vicki Metzgar. “STEM-related jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, and we are not training nearly enough students to fill these positions. We need to take advantage of the wonderful STEM resources throughout our region and help our young people graduate with the skills and certifications that the ever-expanding STEM industry needs.”