Two Nebraska Schools Doing STEM Right

STEM-studentsDid you know that 2013 was declared a year of STEM discovery in Nebraska? Well, it’s now 2015, and we’ve come a long way from that initial commitment to STEM discovery.

From finding additional resources for educators to actively working to increase opportunities for students, educational institutions throughout Nebraska are constantly finding new and exciting ways to get kids fired up about STEM courses in just about every age group.

It’s important to recognize the good things happening with STEM, rather than focusing on simply the negative and looming problem of the skills gap. While there certainly is a disparity of careers and workers in many STEM-focused careers like manufacturing or engineering, there are moves being made and people working hard to fix these issues nationally (and here in Nebraska).

Here are a two of the schools in Nebraska who are doing a tremendous job making STEM an exciting, appealing way to live and learn. Of course, there are many more besides the ones on this list that deserve recognition, so if you note anyone we missed, leave a comment in the section below for others to check out!

Omaha North STEM: This video from Nebraska Loves Public Schools is a great representation of this story, but the passion for STEM at Omaha North actually goes back as far as 2003, when students realized that there was no space for STEM students to gather with attention to resources. So, in 2010, the money raised by students and faculty (along with a very generous donation from alum Dr. George Haddix) opened the Haddix Center, a place to house all engineering programs, sciences, and math classes at the school. The center boasts a digital media classroom, complete with green screen and sound studio, as well as a two-story greenhouse with a rooftop garden. For Omaha high schoolers hoping to engage with hands-on learning and skilled careers, this is a fantastic space for them to learn.

Papillion La Vista: Originally, the Papillion-La Vista Zoo Academy started twelve years ago as a partnership with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The academy was a half-day program where students could take a science class, but has now grown into an all-day program with 120 PLSD students interested in fields like education, health systems, leadership, and STEM courses. The students take required coursework, but also work in a non-traditional learning environment to work with animals and learn about what it takes to run a zoo, in every different area. For students who aren’t comfortable learning in a classroom, and may enjoy an education relevant to a particular skill, this is incredibly appealing and tends to inspire students in a myriad of ways.

As we mentioned, there are so many more schools working actively to teach the value of hands-on learning and engaging students in STEM education at an early age. If we missed any, send us a tweet or leave a comment below!

photo credit: FIRST Robotics Duluth Regional, 2012 _MG_2126 via photopin (license)