Policy-makers and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educators in Nashville had a chance to see STEM education up close Tuesday as the STEMmobile, a mobile STEM laboratory of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, was on exhibit in Nashville’s legislative plaza.
On a brief break from its tour of schools across 20 counties in rural Tennessee, the STEMmobile was in Nashville for the first time since completion. Visitors were able to walk through this mobile STEM lab on wheels and experience the same high-tech and innovative STEM practices that the STEMmobile delivers to grade school students across the rural Upper Cumberland region of the state.
Built and operated by the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a hub of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, the STEMmobile was designed to bring much-needed technology to the doorsteps of rural schools in its partnering districts. Housed in a 53′ tractor-trailer with self-contained power, its own HVAC system, a satellite uplink for internet connectivity, and workstations for twenty-four students, this mobile classroom is stocked with equipment from Tennessee Tech University’s Oakley STEM Center and include iPads, laptops, hand-held data collection devices, and other innovative STEM instructional materials. When they step inside, students have immediate access to state-of-the-art equipment that enables them to study STEM learning objectives set by teachers. Each week the STEMmobile travels to a different school through a partnership with Averitt Express, Inc.
As STEM education continues to play an increasing critical role in ensuring Tennessee’s economic vitality and its competitiveness in attracting future high-tech industries, the STEMmobile open house on legislative plaza is an opportunity for legislators and citizens alike to see STEM in action, and witness first-hand some of the powerful ways STEM education is advancing in Tennessee thanks to organizations such as the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN).
The TSIN seeks to get students ready for success in college and career and to reduce the need for remedial courses upon entering higher education. Quality STEM programming provided through the network prepares students for success after high school, regardless of whether they choose a STEM career pathway, and amplifies the impact of the state’s overall educational reform efforts. The 21st century skills strengthened by STEM education, such as knowledge of technology, strong communication skills, and the ability to think critically in collaboration with others, are being demanded by Tennessee employers.
Through continuing partnerships with education, business, and government to bring real-world learning to classrooms, the TSIN continues to establish Tennessee as a national leader in STEM education with a reputation for a highly skilled workforce.
The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network is a collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute, emphasizing a “kindergarten through jobs” philosophy by promoting the teaching and learning of STEM education and integrating real-world and hands-on learning in K-12 public schools across Tennessee. Visit: www.TSIN.org.