Indiana life sciences initiative BioCrossroads wants to improve the science and math skills of Indiana's elementary and high school students. To figure out how, it's asking the public for ideas.
BioCrossroads released a "request for interest in participation" in the creation of a new K-12 Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Resource Center. Patterned after the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center, BioCrossroads' STEM is meant to be a Web-based, largely virtual organization. It would coordinate math and science resources for educators.
"Ultimately, this center will help students acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to have successful careers, be good citizens and help advance the economy of their local communities and the state," said Marcie Brown, Gov. Mitch Daniels' policy director for education.
The request seeks a statewide managing partner for an Indiana STEM Resource Center. The partner would organize its reach across the state. BioCrossroads also seeks regional participation.
"The success of the Indiana STEM Resource Center will be measured by its ability to increase the number of Hoosier students who pass ISTEP-Plus, increase the number of students who pursue and graduate with math- and science-related degrees, along with many other metrics," said BioCrossroads Vice President Anne Shane.
"Improving K-12 science and math education is the path to economic vitality for Indiana."
BioCrossroads reports that 30 percent of Indiana's work force is tied to manufacturing and the life sciences industries. According to its research, more than 80 percent of the fastest-growing occupations are dependent on strong knowledge of science and math. But in Indiana last year, nearly half of the state's seventhgraders failed the state's first Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus science exam.
"Recent studies have shown that over the past 10 years, the number of high school seniors who are pursuing careers in engineering has dropped nearly 40 percent," said Gary Pellico, director of the Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center. "This new resource center will help Indiana turn this statistic around so that our students are better prepared for the students of tomorrow."
BioCrossroads developed the concept for an Indiana STEM Resource Center with the help of the Science Education Foundation of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Education, the Lumina Foundation for Education and the University of Indianapolis' Center of Excellence in Leadership and Learning. The effort began last fall.
Responses to the request are due by June 1. For details, visit www.biocrossroads.com/rfip.