• Designing a STEM ecosystem in Baltimore
  • STEM design for Baltimore

STEM by Design: Creating a Learning Ecosystem in Baltimore

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Facilitators pace the front of the room, poking their hands at graphs projected on the board. Huddled around workbench tables, a mix of school officials, college professors and informal educators stare between the board and the colorful pie charts, glowing like a dessert menu on their computer screens.

Let’s call it a STEM learning project for educators.

The project?

How to create a thriving ecosystem for STEM learning in Baltimore.

STEM design for Baltimore
Educators look through graphics outlining existing STEM programs in Baltimore.

This is a room of very smart people, working hard to create STEM learning opportunities in Baltimore. This is a good effort. But even with great cooks, it’s tough to make a great chocolate cake without chocolate.

So where are the business leaders, the medical and innovation companies, the construction trades and government agencies?

STEM design workshop
Educators discuss the problems with silos and lack of industry participation in STEM education in Baltimore.

And where are the kids and their parents?

Sure, this is a daytime event, so kids are in school, parents at work, but when and where do they have a turn to talk about the type of STEM education that they want in their communities?

One of the best points at the workshop is that STEM learning should be available to everyone. Think of it as a thousand points of learning.

But in at least one group, “equitable” was used to describe targeting STEM opportunities to those without resources.
The digital divide is big in Baltimore with students using state of the art computers and technology while other students may have to write and research their papers at home on their cell phones. In a computer coding program some students needed to be paid to learn computer coding or they would have to take a part time job to pay bills instead.

But in our attempt to provide equitable STEM education, will we create programs that are as divided by race, income and address as the rest of Baltimore?
STEM learning should be a banquet where we share the bounty of learning together.
We have an opportunity to start programs which include students, parents, citizens and tourists based simply on their curiosity and willingness to learn.  We can create a culture of learning which is pervasive and inclusive throughout Baltimore.

Designing a STEM ecosystem in Baltimore
Business partnerships need to be increased and strengthened to improve STEM learning in Baltimore.

The question shouldn’t be whether we improve STEM education to students in poverty or whether we create STEM opportunities for everyone. It is how soon and well we can do both.