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Rural Matters

Oct 1, 2018

Michelle chats with Anthony Owen, chief state STEM officer and state director of computer education in the Arkansas Department of Education; Angela Hemingway, executive director of the Idaho STEM Action Center; and Kathleen Schofield, executive director of STEM2 Hub, about computer science and STEM programs in rural communities. Computer science and STEM education enables communities to keep students involved in their local rural areas in Arkansas, according to Owen. Hemingway notes that Idaho also has focused on retaining local talent and emphasized the importance of training educators. In addition, she says, more community colleges and universities are increasingly offering computer science and STEM courses, and there’s an understanding of the importance of STEM awareness among parents and communities, as well as students. Schofield discusses STEM learning ecosystems, involving more than 18,000 school districts nationwide. By working as an ecosystem in Florida, she notes, it involves more than just offering a course. It’s blending resources and connecting different communities in the state. This involves a computer science fair and a competition connecting students from rural and other areas. As far as funding is concerned, Owen notes that the legislature has added a $2.5 million line item in the budget for CS training and development and that CS is a required course in schools. Hemingway also notes that public-private partnerships can sometimes be converted into fundraising efforts and that, in Idaho, professional development training has been regionalized. Schofield talks about the importance of industry partners, noting that her organization STEM2Hub, was formed by industry members, and involves mentoring and funding commitments.  This episode was sponsored by Learning Blade, and AASA, the School Superintendent Association,