The Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute today announced the expansion of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) into West Tennessee, as the state continues to grow educational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The TSIN, a partnership between the department and Battelle designed to increase student participation in STEM subjects, formally announced the launch at the University of Memphis for the state’s West Tennessee STEM Collaboratory and STEM platform school. The Collaboratory, led by the University of Memphis, will serve as the TSIN STEM innovation hub in the region, and Shelby County Schools’ Southwind High School will house the network’s STEM platform school.
“We are excited to offer students in West Tennessee this groundbreaking opportunity to deeply engage with STEM subjects,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “The skills they will learn through these innovative, interactive programs and partnerships support our state’s broad goal to better prepare students for college and careers.”
The new West Tennessee STEM Collaboratory will serve as a resource for the region to increase student interest in and preparedness for STEM jobs. Hub activities include supporting the STEM platform school, providing professional development for STEM educators, establishing a STEM Master Teacher Corps for the region and developing STEM integrated online curriculum for core high school courses that will be freely accessible to all districts.
“The University is keenly aware of the need for STEM education on the high school and college levels, and for a number of years now, we have been actively involved in efforts to increase STEM education among students in this area,” said Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis. “Through this partnership with the TSIN and Shelby County Schools, we believe we will be able to make an even greater impact on this very important aspect of modern education.”
The hub currently has commitments from more than 30 partners including representatives from K-12 education, institutions of higher education, corporations, foundations, community and governmental agencies and STEM professional societies.
The TSIN STEM platform school in the region will be housed within Southwind High School in Shelby County. Southwind’s STEM program will invite freshman student applications in the spring, with the STEM program launching for the first cohort of 100 students in August 2013. A new entering class will be added each year until reaching the capacity of 400 students.
Under the leadership of Principal Susan Vaughn and district administrative staff, Southwind has been building a foundation for STEM success since November 2010. With longstanding corporate relationships and ongoing STEM teacher professional development sessions, Southwind is poised to become a premier STEM site and key contributor to the body of STEM best practices for the state.
“STEM Education is a growing emphasis for all schools in Shelby County, and Southwind High School has been a leader in this area for several years in our district,” said Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken. “As a result, our students will have a great advantage as they pursue high-demand STEM degrees and careers after high school.”