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Science Educators Come To San Diego For STEM Summit

— Science, technology, engineering and math educators from across California are gathering in San Diego this week. They’ll focus on changes coming to school curriculum, teacher training and preparing students for jobs in a technology-driven economy.

Mann Middle School seventh graders wait to be called on while working on projects for an upcoming science fair.
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Above: Mann Middle School seventh graders wait to be called on while working on projects for an upcoming science fair.

Science and math education will change dramatically as California adopts the new national curriculum standards known as the Common Core over the next few years. The standards focus on problem solving and critical thinking, skills that some critics say have been pushed to the wayside by the focus on basic math and reading skills under the federal No Child Left Behind program.

California STEM Learning Network CEO Chris Roe said getting ready for those changes will be a big focus of the group’s summit in San Diego.

He pointed to San Diego as an ideal place to highlight and encourage the kinds of public-private partnerships he believes can make the transition easier and ensure that the state has enough technology-trained workers down the road.

“Whether it's afterschool time or recruiting more women into these fields or more minorities into these fields, or bringing more project-based relevant curriculum and learning into the classroom," he said, "these are all going to require much stronger partnerships with business and industry and higher education.”

The summit will also highlight the work of the San Diego Science Alliance, a group that facilitates these kinds of partnerships and offers science, technology, engineering and math opportunities for students and teachers. Nancy Taylor heads the alliance and said in 17 years with the organization, she has seen student interest in STEM fields grow.

“We have seen increased interest in accessing after-school and out-of-school programs where there is an opportunity to have a mentor or access to an industry professional,” she said.

She said the demand for these opportunities and in-school programs like robotics teams has also increased the need for professionals willing to volunteer.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and former Los Angeles Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will also address the group.

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