“Across Illinois, we can find individual examples of school-to-work success. We need to build a statewide system of school-to-work success. STEM Learning Exchanges can get us there by instilling a love of science and technology in middle school and keeping lessons relevant and connected to the job market as students become working age.”
-Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon

As developed economies increasingly depend on knowledge-intensive industries, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study that focus on scientific endeavor and innovation are critically important for Illinois and the United States to maintain a competitive edge. From corporate board rooms to classrooms, the need for more students educated in STEM related fields is profound. Illinois Pathways’ STEM Learning Exchanges are public-private partnerships that coordinate investments, resources and planning for STEM Programs of Study, enhancing academic achievement and enabling successful transitions to post-secondary education and employment in Illinois.

The Illinois Pathways program consists of nine learning exchanges: Agriculture; Energy; Manufacturing; Information Technology; Architecture and Construction; Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Research and Development (R&D); Health Science; and Finance. The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) and the STEM Coalition responded to the request for information (RFI), and are currently applying to the Illinois State Board of Education’s request for sealed proposals (RFSP) to lead the R&D Learning Exchange. ISTI and the R&D STEM Coalition join leaders from schools, universities, government, the non-profit sector, national laboratories, and industry in partnership to facilitate meaningful pathways between education and R&D STEM careers; shape STEM activities in Illinois; and contribute to an innovative knowledge base of best practices.

STEM Coalition partners have already developed and implemented an array of creative programming, each individually effective and with the potential to have an even greater impact through the Learning Exchange project.  A few examples: Northrop Grumman takes groups of teachers on a zero-gravity space flight where the teachers perform experiments designed by their students, providing STEM enrichment for both students and teachers.  Students enrolled in IIT’s Boeing Scholars Program are exposed to STEM fields through experiences such as spending time with scientists at Argonne National Laboratories.  For 40 years, the Shedd Aquarium has been nurturing future conservators, scientists, and innovators through their programs for teens.  Programs such as these through the Illinois Pathways Learning Exchanges can help Illinois residents lead the 21st century global economy.

Read below to see further examples of current STEM programming, and look for the June issue of the Illinois Innovation Index, which will look further into the state of STEM in Illinois.

Did You Know?

In 2011, 37% of high school students in Illinois intending to go to college indicated they would be interested in pursuing a STEM degree. Among these, over 50% indicated majors in Health Sciences and Technologies as their preferred choice.

Biological and Physical Sciences and Engineering are the next most popular STEM degrees, with a total of 6% of all college bound students indicating these degrees as their preferred major.

Watch and Listen:

Illinois Pathways Launch Event Speaker: Governor Quinn

A STEM Education, Tools to Change the World


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