Do more together! #UpstateSCSTEM

General Meeting Minutes

September 19, 2019

4-6 p.m.

Roper Mountain Science Center


Shavada Lee, John Tully, Jan Cox, Sharon Purvis, Wanda Staggers, Renée Lyons, Jorge Riano, Alice Gilchrist, Georgette Johnson, Gabriella Porter, Valerie Mosher, Beth Kinzer, Donna Stroud, Beth Leavitt, Sandy Bradshaw, Dallas Erwin


  1. Introductions 4–4:15 p.m.
  2. Program Updates 4:15–4:30 p.m.
    1. Group activity: “Laying the Foundation” 4:30 p.m.–5:15 p.m.
  3. Presentation/Discussion 5:15–5:30 p.m.

Group Activity Notes:  “Laying the Foundation”

  1. What great things is your organization/business/school doing to address STEM education and workforce development? What makes your approach unique? Why is it working?
    • City of Greenville has money to create afterschool and summer programs.
    • Ten at the Top is addressing teacher shortages.
    • Michelin is doing a ride and learn. Participants can take the bus to a seminar/class/other destination to get acquainted with the bus system. The idea is to help remove the stigma around individuals who take the bus or rely on it for regular transportation.
    • FIRST Robotics Team 283 is partnering with industry, using JAVA, to build a full robot. All is tied to workforce development.
    • Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center offers field trips for interactive lab experiments to help kids identify with science.
    • GreenBy3 provides project-based internships to high school and college students.
    • Roper Mountain Science Center has experiential science labs. Teachers get something they can’t do in the classroom and kids get exciting field trips with cutting edge technology.
    • Community Code provides computer programming instruction to different organizations, especially young girls. Present in areas where girls wouldn’t otherwise have this resource.
    • Ignite impacts kids with STEAM by emphasizing understanding, rather than memorization, of material.
    • Fluor provides fundraising support for STEM education and has Discover E (engineering) program.
  2. What obstacles do you face in advancing STEM education and workforce development?
    • How do you draw connections to more than just engineering? Supportive (administrative, IT, etc.) jobs are just as important as actual STEM positions.
    • There aren’t enough women in STEAM. Women hear about engineering/technology positions jobs and immediately assume the job isn’t for them.
    • Transportation: busses aren’t on time so employees are late. There aren’t enough drivers to run busses on the third shift; it limits the employees that can work those shifts. There is a lack of affordable housing near bus/public transit routes.
    • Retention of employees. Many jobs are part-time.
    • Advocating for smart schooling or school that fits the individual’s budget and dealing with the negative feedback that business is “killing college.”
    • How do we get skilled workers on the project-side? Incoming employees lack technical skills gained from a technical education. Not everyone is a 4-year college student. Invest more in technical schools.
    • The entire education system needs to change, kindergarten thru college.
    • Raising the teacher profession to a higher status. Professional development for teachers and salary increases would help this. Teacher certification requirements at the State Department of Education are outdated; they don’t consider continuing education courses in engineering as satisfactory for a math teacher.
    • Equity – accessibility to all students. Field trips are pay-for-service rather than need-based. Grants don’t cover enough.
    • Red tape: schools are strict about internships they will accept.
    • Funding: there is a budget, and it only goes so far.
    • How do we make parents care about STEM education? Parents don’t know what STEM/STEAM is and why they should care beyond a raised test score.
    • Standardized testing limits understanding and application of material.
  3. What are you hoping to gain by being a part of the Upstate SC STEM Collaborative? What relationships or resources are most useful to you right now?
    • Experiences, a way to give back to the community, networking.
    • Better understanding that there are good jobs in STEM.
    • Removing the stigma of not having a degree.
    • Removing the silos between our fields. Nonprofits, schools, businesses are all on the same team, so how can we work together?
    • Networking with funding partners.
    • Sharing of resources.
    • Messaging; being able to share what we do with the community.
  4. How has the landscape around the STEM workforce changed in the last 10 years?
    • Growth! Our kids are doing more of STEM! They use laptops in class and take on tech-based learning activities.
    • College has become a MUST for many parents. They advocate for their children to take on engineering, physics, IT, etc. rather than working in manufacturing or with their hands.
    • There is more attention put on STEM now because the need is becoming critical. South Carolina is behind in the education rankings. There is greater return on investment for STEM degrees these days.
  1. What are some action items you feel we can accomplish as a Collaborative?
    • Tying fun things to careers – “planting a seed that kids can do STEM when they grow up and that it’s fun.” Meeting kids when they’re young.
    • Advocacy!
    • Taking advantage of our manufacturing hub in Greenville
    • Partnering with tech schools.
    • We need to get the top people from government, State Department of Education, school leaders, etc. involved.
    • Tap into the private business sector.

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