States Add More STEM Learning Ecosystems

Several states today unveiled 17 additional “STEM learning ecosystems,” or regions that provide pre-K–16 students with science, technology, engineering and math resources and tools as part of the STEM Learning Ecosystems initiative. Each ecosystem is led by the STEM Funders Network, which comprises dozens of education-focused foundations such as the Samueli Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

According to a news release, the new STEM Learning Ecosystems are:

  • Arizona: Flagstaff STEM Learning Ecosystem;
  • California: Region 5 STEAM in Expanded Learning Ecosystem (San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey Counties);
  • Louisiana: Baton Rouge STEM Learning Network;
  • Massachusetts: Cape Cod Regional STEM Network;
  • Michigan: Michigan STEM Partnership / Southeast Michigan STEM Alliance;
  • Missouri: St. Louis Regional STEM Learning Ecosystem;
  • New Jersey: Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance (Burlington County);
  • New Jersey: Newark STEAM Coalition;
  • New York: WNY STEM (Western New York State);
  • New York: North Country STEM Network (seven counties of Northern New York State);   
  • Ohio: Upper Ohio Valley STEM Cooperative;
  • Ohio: STEM Works East Central Ohio;
  • Oklahoma: Mayes County STEM Alliance;
  • Pennsylvania: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery STEM Learning Ecosystem;
  • Washington: The Washington STEM Network;
  • Wisconsin: Greater Green Bay STEM Network;
  • Canada: Symbiosis, British Columbia, Canada;

In September 2015, the STEM Funders Network revealed 27 communities to pilot the national initiative. The following May, STEM Funders Network added 10 more. These STEM learning ecosystems encompass “schools, businesses, community settings including after-school and summer programs, science centers and museums and other environments that together constitute a rich array of learning opportunities,” according to the initiative website. The vision is equity in STEM: “to nurture and scale effective STEM learning opportunities for all young people.”

The STEM Learning Ecosystems initiative over the last decade has been building its platform of research related to cultivating successful STEM collaborations. It is guided by the community of practice framework, which abides by the following set of principles:

  • Design for evolution;
  • Foster an open dialogue between inside and outside perspectives;
  • Create public and private spaces;
  • Invite varying levels of participation;
  • Focus on value;
  • Combine familiar and excitement; and
  • Create a “community rhythm” of sorts.

The Philadelphia Department of Education, for example, added the Buck, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery STEM Learning Ecosystem. Now, five out of the 54 total STEM Learning Ecosystems are located in Pennsylvania and they receive a suite of STEM educational services from 25 private, NGO and philanthropic partners, as well as 15 post-secondary partners, the initiative website states. The agency by 2020 plans to boost enrollment for STEM-specific majors at state-supported postsecondary institutions to 10,000 students.

To see the full list of 54 STEM learning ecosystems around the United States, visit the initiative site