Local STEM advocates to collaborate with STEM leaders from across the world

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RARC Judges around competition mat at RARC competition in February 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Local leaders from Sci-Port Discovery Center, Bossier Parish Community College, Cyber Innovation Center, the Afterschool Alliance, NWLA Makerspace and The O.L.L.I.E. Initiative will spend next week with global STEM education experts, gathering ideas for programs and plans benefit local youth through strong connections between local educators and businesses, and afterschool and community organizations. 

The North Louisiana STEM Allianceis connected to counterparts through the worldwide STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, SLECoP, which fosters information and resource-sharing with like-minded individuals and organizations. The SLECOP is a global initiative of innovators who know that thriving communities are built through collaboration and a willingness to reimagine education. 

The convening launches on April 3 with a focus on Family and Community Engagement. Walter Isaacson, the noted author, historian and thought leader, will deliver the keynote address.

Isaacson was selected to deliver the keynote address to the 350 global leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) because of his ability to connect STEM to nearly all aspects of life. Isaacson’s noted biographies of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs have allowed readers to see the relevance of STEM in everything from art and music to product packaging.

“We view STEM not as a flat set of skills, but instead, as the necessary mindset to foster economic prosperity for all,” said Jan Morrison, president and founding partner of TIES, the organization that operates the SLECoP. “We are delighted to have Walter Isaacson join us for what promises to be an amazing gathering of people motivated to reimagine education.”

The SLECoP was built on the fundamental belief that learning happens everywhere – not just in traditional classrooms – and that all members of a community are responsible for that learning. Consequently, ecosystems are made up of partners representing K-12 public and private education, business and industry, after-school providers, non-profits, STEM-rich institutions, government and philanthropy. 

“The North Louisiana STEM Alliance aspires to connect all regional youth with high quality STEM education, including the arts, regardless of zip code. We bring together those who provide services and resources with those who have the greatest need, with the idea that we can grow our own workforce,” explained Heather Kleiner, Founder and Director of the North Louisiana STEM Alliance and Sponsored Programs Manager at Sci-Port Discovery Center.

Through the local Ecosystem, Northwest Louisiana is making great strides to offer rich, meaningful STEM education and experiences to youth. Ecosystems’ cross-sector partners work for shared goals around improved STEM opportunities for learners of all ages. Ecosystems also recognize the importance of identifying needed skills for an economy yet to be conceived and advocacy for informed STEM policies to meet 21st century needs.

With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and other investors, the New Orleans convening will focus on strategies to enable stronger family and community engagement in children’s education.

Other major support for the convening is being provided by the Samueli Foundation with assistance from the STEM Funders Network, LEGO Education, Tallo, Pitsco Education, Vernier and others.

Learn more about the national initiative at stemecosystems.org.