Oakland Schools is engaged in a multi-year countywide initiative to expand STEM education and promote STEM careers. The primary audience is students in grades 4-7 with specific strategies to target schools and/or districts with students from underserved populations. The STEM education initiative is comprised of two components.
1) STEMi is a traveling mobile lab – a classroom on a “semi” truck – currently under construction. STEMi will have 1,000 square feet of learning space; incorporate a modular design to meet the needs of all learners; accommodate up to 40 learners at a time; and comprise from four to eight experiences or “stations” to allow for small group interactions. Equipped with scalable high-tech equipment, it will support STEM education, awareness, and exploration for students engaging in mechatronics, electronics, telecommunications, robotics, rapid prototyping, coding, augmented reality, and video game design, just for starters. During the 2021-2022 school year year, it is anticipated that STEMi will impact 15,000 students, with fourth through seventh graders being targeted, and provide 200 hours of professional learning to educators. STEMi will also host a minimum of four Engineering Nights for families at local districts. STEMi will be available at no cost to Oakland’s 28 school districts.
2) STEMcos is the Oakland Schools STEM equipment checkout system providing teachers and students with ready access to equipment and teaching/learning materials for crucial hands-on, project-based learning. STEMcos currently includes 100 classroom sets of equipment and teacher materials (1,600 items) for grades K-12. Originally designed to facilitate and document the important pre- and post-learning to a district’s STEMi visit, the checkout system has been underway since early 2020 and demand for the classroom sets of equipment has increased significantly, even during the pandemic.
By the 2023-2024 school year it is expected that STEM offerings will continue to rotate through the county and specific new offerings will be available based on three years of data and feedback. Title 1 buildings/students will be targeted for services up to 75 percent of school time during 2023-2024. By year five, Oakland Schools will be engaged with districts in creating onsite STEM Maker Spaces. STEMi and STEMcos will continue to target the more underserved populations of students throughout the county. The CTN grant award will support the purchase of STEM equipment to be used for hands-on learning as part of the countywide STEM initiative.