Science Center wins award for STEM education

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By Justin Criado

Carnegie Science Center recently won the 2015 Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Business Practice from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), an international organization of more than 600 science centers and museums dedicated to encouraging public engagement with science among diverse audiences, according to a press release.

The award recognized the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, a process developed by Carnegie Science Center by which school districts or individual schools can improve their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education practices through a continuous improvement sequence of self-evaluation, goal-setting, and re-evaluation. The Pathway’s goal is to help all schools strengthen their STEM efforts with a plan specifically tailored to their individualized STEM education needs and resources, including compliance with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards as well as career awareness.

In the one year since the Pathway was developed, 169 schools and districts in 11 states and the District of Columbia have become Pathway Partners, reaching more than 3,000 schools and 2.6 million students.

Since hundreds of science centers around the world are eligible to compete for the Leading Edge Award, it is rare to be recognized with this award, yet this is the Carnegie Science Center’s third Leading Edge award in the last six years, including 2009, for innovative programming for girls; 2012, for the Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development; and this year, for the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway.

In announcing the award, ASTC noted: “The Pathway has not only created a funding stream for the science center but has also met community needs.”

The 10-person jury, representing science centers in four nations, praised the Pathway’s wide reach and realistic approach in helping integrate the goals of science centers and educators. Ron Baillie and Ann Metzger, the Henry Buhl, Jr., co-directors of Carnegie Science Center, will accept the etched glass “Edgie” award at the 2015 ASTC Annual Conference on Monday, Oct. 19, in the Palais des congrès in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

“The Pathway has resonated with schools across the country at a rapid pace because it addresses an urgently felt need,” Metzger said in the release. “Across the nation, we face a shortage of workers with the STEM skills demanded by 21st century employers. Schools recognize the critical role they play in developing the next generation STEM workforce, and they’re looking for help in developing effective strategies to improve their STEM education programs.”

Baillie added: “Only through a collaborative effort can the nation address this need for a skilled STEM workforce. Schools can’t do it alone. Parents can’t do it alone. Corporations can’t do it alone. Science Centers can’t do it alone. But the work that we have done with the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway signals the critical role that science centers can play in their communities in furthering STEM education.”

To develop the Pathway, Carnegie Science Center convened a diverse group of educators, both at the K-12 and higher education levels. Their participation was engaged to ensure the Pathway’s relevance, practicality, and value to school districts.

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