Lincoln County School District has been awarded a $664,000 state grant to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education from kindergarten through community college along the Oregon Coast, the Oregon Department of Education announced on Feb. 25.
LCSD, along with Oregon State University’s Sea Grant program, Tillamook School District, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, will lead one of six regional STEM Hubs across Oregon. The STEM Hubs will foster 21st Century STEM career skills and provide for student populations that have historically been underserved and underrepresented throughout the state. The new Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub will ensure that coastal schools and educators have the tools and support necessary to deliver world-class STEM instruction to rural students.
“This is awesome news. What a great acknowledgment of the work all the partners have been doing over the last five years,” says LCSD Superintendent Tom Rinearson.
The grant will help expand the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, which is a U.S. Department of Education Math Science Partnership project that currently involves 23 partners and Tillamook and Lincoln County School Districts.
The Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub will serve coastal school districts from Astoria to Coos Bay, and involves more than 40 organizations including OSU, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Near Space Corporation, Georgia-Pacific, Central Oregon Coast National Organization for Women, and the Marine Technology Society–Oregon Chapter. The new hub will be centered in space provided by OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
During the first phase of the project from March through June, meetings will be held along the Oregon Coast to engage new partners and conduct a needs assessment. Once the hub’s operational plan is formalized, Phase 2 will begin, and will support training educators and providing student STEM learning experiences.
In the past 10 years, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs, and this pace is expected to continue throughout the next decade, according to the state education department. Meanwhile, more than half of African American and Latino eighth graders do not meet state benchmarks in math, and about half of students of color do not meet benchmarks in science.
“Literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics holds tremendous opportunity for our students,” said Oregon Chief Education Officer Dr. Nancy Golden. “This is especially true for students from communities of color.”
The Oregon Education Investment Board awarded a total of $2.8 million to six regional STEM hubs as a key strategic investment to support Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal. The state wants 40 percent of its adult residents to earn a bachelor’s or advanced degree, 40 percent to have an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate, and 20 percent to hold a high school diploma by 2025.
The other five regional STEM hubs are:
- Central Oregon STEM Hub, led by the High Desert Museum serving Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties.
- GO STEM Collaborative led by Eastern Oregon University serving Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur counties.
- Portland Metro STEM Center led by Portland State University, serving Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts.
- South Metro Salem STEM Partnership led by Oregon Tech serving Multnomah, Clackamas, Marion, Washington and Polk counties.
- Umpqua Valley Regional STEAM Hub led by Umpqua Community College serving Douglas County.