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Grand Valley joins statewide network to support STEM education

  • Photo of engineering students working on a project

Posted on February 23, 2018

Grand Valley State University is now a part of a new regional support system for STEM education in West Michigan.

Each of the newly formed 16 regions, referred to as the MiSTEM Network, will receive a portion of nearly $1.3 million in state funding to develop their own strategic plans that create a robust regional STEM culture. Grand Valley's Regional Math and Science Center will lead these initiatives after receiving more than $110,000 in state funding.

Kristofer Pachla, RMSC director, said the decision for Grand Valley to join the MiSTEM Network builds on the university's more than 30-year involvement in the STEM education conversation in Michigan.

"Research suggests that if we can engage students early on in these exciting and high-quality experiences, we'll capture their imagination and interest in STEM fields," said Pachla. "Helping to connect students to these types of opportunities — to shadow, to see scientists, engineers and mathematicians in action, to work on a design thinking challenge — will help students see how STEM connects to their interests while opening new doors for their future."

The six counties Grand Valley will collaborate with through the MiSTEM Network include Kent, Ottawa, Montcalm, Newaygo, Muskegon and Allegan.

The MiSTEM Network is the result of the recommendation to make Michigan a world leader in STEM education by Gov. Rick Snyder's MiSTEM Advisory Council.

The four pillars named by the council as necessary components to the infrastructure of the network including creating a STEM culture, empowering STEM teachers, integrating business and education and ensuring high-quality STEM experiences for students.

Pachla said the university's work through the network has the potential to bring Grand Valley students together with industry partners and leaders in STEM education.

"Beyond the workforce, there is also a lot to learn about underlying skills that benefit students in their future and how we merge a liberal education with preparation for the workforce," said Pachla. "Learning more about the needs of employers can help students look at the big picture of their education."