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*Special Edition*

Best of STEM in North Carolina for 2015

Please enjoy our compilation of some of the best stories in STEM education this year.


SMT Center to pilot STEM Learning Ecosystem initiative


The N.C. Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center was selected in September as one of the 27 pilot projects throughout the United States for the STEM Ecosystems Initiative launched by the STEM Funders Network. This project, built on over a decade of research into successful STEM collaborations seeks to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities for all young people. The 27 communities each demonstrate their leadership in developing a strong STEM community and recognition of their commitment to continue the work. The first gathering of the STEM Ecosystem Community of Practice was hosted at the White House in November.

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NC Board of Education names STEM Schools of Distinction


In November, the North Carolina State Board of Education recognized seven public schools as STEM Schools of Distinction for exemplary leadership and instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Schools were either recognized as meeting the Prepared Level of Achievement or the Model Level of Achievement. To be chosen, these schools must exemplify outstanding leadership and learning, which empower keen creative thinking, reasoning and teamwork. Schools recognized under the Model Level of Achievement go even further by systemically interweaving science, technology, engineering and mathematics into complementary arts, career and technical education, English language arts, and world history courses. Overall, 20 applications were submitted for possible recognition. Congratulations to this year's recipients.

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NC teachers honored for excellence in science, mathematics


Six North Carolina public school teachers in March were honored as recipients of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers. BWF Fund Program Officer Alfred Mays said each recipient demonstrated a continued passion and commitment for the teaching profession as well as furthering STEM education through various teaching and learning strategies. The various elements of support provided by the award, he added, helps to build capacity for even greater impact on the students being served. Click the link below to view this year's recipients.

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Two NC schools receive $200K for STEM programs


In October, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 13 schools throughout the nation, two of which in North Carolina, money for STEM programs through the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP). North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was awarded $250,000, and North Carolina Central University was awarded $249,998.

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North Carolina educators receive presidential awards


Two North Carolina educators were recognized by President Obama this year as awardees of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Julie Riggins of East Forsyth High School and Jeffrey Milbourne of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics were among the honorees from North Carolina. In total, 108 math and science teachers were named as recipients of the prestigious award representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

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STEM Education Act of 2015 includes computer science


President Barack Obama signed into law the new STEM Education Act of 2015 in October. The law is designed to broaden the definition of STEM, allowing new programs in computer science now to be funded by the federal government. It doesn't add additional funding, but it does expand the kinds of STEM programs that can be run and funded by federal agencies to include computer science. Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships, which support those pursuing their master’s degree in computer science, also are now available under this law for those wishing to use their degree to teach. Additionally, the STEM Education Act of 2015 requires the National Science Foundation to continue funding informal, out-of-school programs in STEM, in facilities like nature centers and museums. Click the link for a summary of the major provisions of the law.

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SMT Center honors Champions of STEM in North Carolina


Members of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center’s Board of Directors announced this year’s recipients for the SMT Center Awards in April at the annual SMT Celebration. The SMT Celebration was established in 2007 to recognize and acknowledge leaders and innovators in STEM education across North Carolina.

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North Carolina dropout rate hits record low


Once again, the dropout rate for North Carolina public schools hit a record low in 2015; and for the first time, two school districts – Hyde and Tyrrell – reported zero dropouts according to the 2013-14 Consolidated Data Report presented to State Board of Education. Last school year, 2.28 percent of high school students dropped out of school, which represents a 6.9 percent decrease from the previous year’s record low of 2.45 percent.

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Biogen Idec Foundation invests $1.5M for STEM programs


Citizen Schools announced in January a new Biogen Idec Foundation grant to support its STEM programs, and named the Biogen Idec Foundation its first National Innovation Partner. Based on a shared commitment to sparking students’ interest in science through hands-on experiences, the Biogen Idec Foundation is helping to launch the next phase of Citizen Schools’ national STEM strategy to improve and scale the hands-on apprenticeship model for STEM learning in Massachusetts and North Carolina and at the national level. The $1.5 million, three-year investment will allow Citizen Schools to provide thousands of middle school students with real-world learning opportunities led by volunteer professionals. It also will support STEM curriculum development and a randomized evaluation by leading evaluation firm Abt Associates. The analysis will test whether providing STEM-focused apprenticeships leads to increased STEM interest and achievement in math and science for middle school students. The Biogen Idec Foundation has supported Citizen Schools since 2008, providing more than $250,000 in grants to support the organization’s STEM apprenticeship programs in Boston and Research Triangle Park.

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Team USA wins Math Olympiad, breaks China's dominance


The United States ended a 21-year drought when the team took home gold this year in the annual International Mathematical Olympiad. The U.S. win broke a long stretch dominated by China, which placed lower than second only once during that period (China took second this year). The IMO is a competition for high schoolers around the world. The U.S. ranks 36 of 65 countries and economies on math proficiency among 15-year-olds, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, but those rankings are based on population-wide statistics; the IMO pits countries' very top tier against one another. The U.S. picks its six-person team through a series of tests the AMC (multiple choice), the AIME (all answers are integers between 0 and 999), and the USAMO (six questions, all proof-based). Any student in 8th through 12th grade can choose to take the AMC, but to take any subsequent tests, students must score high on the preceding one. Congrats USA mathletes on a job well done!

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Raleigh ranked No. 3 for STEM among metro cities


Technological innovation is often used as a measure of progress. And though America has historically produced one of the best scorecards in the world, competition is fiercer than ever. But don’t expect the U.S. to relinquish its position anytime soon. According to Department of Commerce estimates, STEM professions will expand 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations between 2008 and 2018. To help STEM professionals find the best markets for their valuable occupations, WalletHub analyzed the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. and named Raleigh No. 3 in the overall rankings in late January.

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Education events in NC continue to draw national attention


North Carolina is home to many great education events and in 2015 the events focused on STEM in particular continued to grow in popularity. The Scaling STEM: Strategies That Engage the Mind® conference and the annual Emerging Issues Forum in February, the NC Science Festival in April, the NC Chamber Conference on Education in August, and Bridging the Gap in October pretty much covered each quarter of the year with some great STEM-oriented discussions with record attendance. With engagement levels in education at all-time highs, 2016 should shape up for another great year for STEM education in North Carolina.




Thanks for a STEM-tastic year. We're excited for what's the come in 2016.
Happy Holidays!

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