News & Updates

Meeting Minutes – September 13, 2017

Collaborative Meeting

September 13, 2017

4:00-5:30 pm

@ Roper Mountain Science Center


Kelsye Acker, Madeline Brown, Steven Brown, Joan Burket, Fay Choban, Bob Choban, John Driscoll, David Gardner, Alice Gilchrist, Juan Gonzalez, Laura Graves, Jennifer Harrill, Melissa Huff, James Kalinowski, Jennifer Klipp, Katie Klipp, Zephaniah Long, Lynn Mann, Mel Middleton, Jessica Morton, Val Mosher, Rick Murphy, Bill Pedersen, London Penland, Cassidy Reynolds, Rob Rhodes, Brian Richard, Thomas Riddle, Ansel Sanders, Dawn Sheriff, Donna Swanger, Tiffany Tate, Cheryl Wiggins

Meeting Information


    1. Welcome – Melissa
    2. Announcements – Melissa
      1. Introduce Kelsye Acker
      2. Update on iMAGINE Upstate
      3. Show iU video (5 min)
    3. Introduce Guest Speaker – Melissa – until 4:20pm
    4. Keynote Speaker – Ansel Sanders (20-30 min) – until 5pm
      1. STEAM Grants – K-12 awards 5 $2k grants to support STEAM related projects in the classroom for the year. Creating conditions to attract & retain teach talent through social media & reaching out to principals.
      2. Ansel’s introduces Discussion Questions
      3. Explains that conversation notes will be used by Melissa to create a survey to inform our goals and direction moving forward
    5. Roundtable Discussions (15-20 min) – 5:00 – 5:20pm
      1. Questions: Sheets at tables
      2. Discussion Time (15 min)
      3. Sharing (10 min) – each table shares 3 take-away points or follow-up questions with the entire group (5:20 – 5:30pm)
    6. Closing – Director (5:30pm) – 5 minutes
      1. Melissa – thanks Ansel Sanders
      2. Ask for notes and remind how they will be used – expect to receive a follow up survey within two weeks
      3. Next meeting will be a joint Special Event with NSBE that will delve deeper into these questions and solidify our goals, mission and strategic plans moving forward through 2020. Date: 15th from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Includes roundtable workshops led by facilitators and lots of time for networking. Location TBD.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does STEAM or STEM mean to you? What are the underlying assumptions? How can STEM or STEAM be integrated into in-school and out-of-school experiences for students?
    • Do kids assume they must be Great at math in order to do STEM?
    • Culture of STEM practitioners’ values critical thinking (role of failure)
    • Integration of content
    • Interconnections of S.T.E.A.M. and industries
    • Bridge gap between STEM education and STEM careers
    • Developing necessary skills to be successful in the workforce
      • Both STEM and soft skills
    • A vehicle to empower students and children
      • Minorities, lower class/impoverished, women
    • Better educate parents & teachers on STEAM & STEM
    • Give students a road map & career overview of various careers in STEAM & STEAM
  2. Is STEM mainly about WHAT to learn or HOW to learn?
    • How to learn
    • Foster creativity
  3. What do we mean by “21st Century” skills? Profile of a SC Graduate.
    • Add to handout Master Classes
    • More understanding
    • Meaningful/Practical learning
    • Problem solving – hands on
    • Confidence
    • Learning to learn
    • Continuous learning
  4. How do we know that there are gaps in STEM education and workforce development?
    • Difficulty in
      • Recruitment into industry/school system
      • Do kids relate real-life careers with STEM subjects
      • Classroom prep in college
    • Lack of teachers
    • Importing of employees
    • Lack of supply for our current workforce
    • Lack of varies problem-solving skills and risk taking (which build confidence that is needed in STEM
  5. Is our goal to prepare students to enter the workforce or to prepare well-rounded global citizens?
    • Yes, to enter the workforce means you are a good citizen
    • Both
    • It’s both
    • Well-rounded global citizens enter the workforce more prepared, more seamlessly ready and with more to offer
  6. What are some ways we can work together as a community to better prepare students for their future?
    • Summer classes
    • Value education
    • Celebrity – need science, not just sports
    • Companies adopt schools and provide role models
    • Create community projects that act as intermediary mediums for public/private partnerships
    • Offer Engaging, hands-on, relevant, age-appropriate activities
    • Offer exposure to STEM workers from the “real-world”
    • Open opportunities for seeing STEM in workplaces close to the students
  7. What is the purpose of the Upstate STEM Collaborative?
    • The people in this room at different places in understanding/wants/needs
    • Sharing resources
    • Build networks/connections
    • Identify possible opportunities
    • Get us all working together to provide insight and collaboration
    • To join reps from various fields, raise awareness of opportunities, provide networking of organizations to open doors of opportunity for ALL SC students in STEAM
  8. What role should the Upstate STEM Collaborative play in improving education and supporting economic development in our region? What areas of the community should we be focused on impacting: schools, afterschool and summer programs, public policy, business and industry, etc.
    • Teach parents and teachers the value of a career in STEM manufacturing
      • Opportunities from 2-year degrees
    • Introduce students to the career skills path to STEM at younger ages
    • More apprenticeship programs at high school level
    • Breaking the stigma of technical/ 2-year degrees and advance manufacturing
    • Showcasing the success of students placed in careers after 2-year degree/certifications vs 4-year degrees
    • Act as a networking facilitator to bridge gaps between volunteer groups and partnerships
      • Communities, schools, after school, summer, 4 to 5, Public Policy to Business/Industry

    Additional Notes

    • BIG IDEAS from one group
    • Goal – Equip SC students in STEAM for life
    • Need – Additional access to opportunities and funding for/in STEAM in and out of the classroom
    • Action – Pool resources and increase quality communication



Introducing Kelsye Acker

As a passionate professional, Kelsye is excited to join iMAGINE Upstate and the Upstate SC STEM Collaborative team in her new role as Special Events and Marketing Coordinator. With her particular interest in mentoring and motivating youth, she is thrilled to be involved with a program like iMAGINE Upstate that is geared toward students and young professionals. Kelsye’s dad is an engineer and she is looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of STEM education and careers.

Prior to joining the team, Kelsye managed display media campaigns as a Media Specialist at Infinity Marketing with their DJ Endorsements program in Greenville. Her experience includes sales, marketing, client management, branding and financial communications.

Originally from Atlanta, GA, South Carolina has always been a second home since she has family in Anderson. Kelsye earned her bachelor’s from Kennesaw State University in Communications with a focus in Public Relations. When she’s not hard at work, you can find her downtown checking out the latest food spots, or spending quality time with family in Anderson!


Help us kick-off a new school year with Public Education Partners!

Upstate SC STEM Collaborative:

Fall Meeting

Come hear from guest speaker Ansel Sanders, President of Public Education Partners in Greenville. Public Education Partners is a local education fund dedicated to building dynamic public schools that inspire, encourage, and support students to fulfill their dreams.

Read more information and register on Eventbrite

Meeting Minutes – June 14, 2017

Collaborative Meeting

June 14, 2017

4:00-5/5:30 pm

@ Roper Mountain Science Center


Laney Alverson, Madeline Brown, Joan Burket, Kelly Byers, Bob Dickinson, John Driscoll, Juan Gonzolez, Melissa Huff, Dave Lewandowski, Val Mosher, Rick Murphy, London Penland, Tom Peters, Benjamin Ranson, Aimee Redick, Susie Teague, John Tully, Jason Weidman, Jodi Zeis

Meeting Information

iMAGINE Upstate Festival

Save the Date! The 2018 iMAGINE Upstate Festival will be on Saturday, April 7, 2018!

Science on the Move

Science on the Move

What’s Happening


Melissa Huff Picture

Introducing Melissa Huff

It’s a pleasure to introduce myself to those of you I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet. In late 2016, I stepped in to direct the iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Fest to fill Sarah Arbogast’s former role. Thanks in large part to the support of the Collaborative and our amazing partners in the industry, education and nonprofit sectors, iMAGINE Upstate 2017 was a great success! I am thrilled to announce that I will be taking on the additional position of Upstate SC STEM Collaborative Director officially beginning July 1.

Meeting Minutes – February 22, 2017

Collaborative Meeting

February 22, 2017

4:00-5/5:30 pm

@ Roper Mountain Science Center

Attendance: Reid Becker, Jaime Benton, Katie Burch, Ashely Burns, Kelly Byers, Jan Carter, Victoria Corbin, David Gardner, Alice Gilchrist, Greg Hutchinson, Kevin Kunkle, Lynn Mann, Val Mosher, Leesa Owens, Tom Peters, DeDee Quinn, Thomas Riddle, Paul Sharp, Tiffany Tate, Susie Teague, Michael Weeks, Cheryl Wiggins, Jarrod Wiggins


Meeting Minutes – November 30, 2016

Collaborative Meeting

November 30, 2016


@ Roper Mountain Science Center

I. Introduction & Welcome: 

Attendance: Katie Burch, Ashley Burns, Helen Byce, Kelly Byers, Bob Choban, Fay Choban, Victoria Corbin, Ashley Dyal, Juan Gonzolez, Shannon Hansen, John Kaup, Mandy Liesch, Deanna Ludwick, Gerald Marshall, Mel Middleton, Val Mosher, Tom, Peters, DeDee Quinn, Thomas Riddle, Amy St. John, Susie Teague, Michael Weeks, Cheryl Wiggins and Jarrod Wiggins

 II. Moving Forward

  • Our mission remains the same…

III. Timeline Updates

  • Interim Position: Melissa Huff
  • Posting Full-Time Position
  • Priorities set by Collaborative will continue:
    • Provide resources for existing (not new) programs
    • Maintain quality of iMAGINE: Postpone Rock Hill and Spartanburg

III. Architecture-Construction-Engineering (Mel, Helen, Alison)

  • Workforce Development
  • Nationwide supported project
  • Focused on high school students
  • 60+ sites in US (40 states)
  • Working with Next High School
  • Afterschool program (can be during school time)
  • Seeking mentors, PR, monetary donations
  • Who designs the curriculum?
    • They develop own curriculum
    • Include their contact info
    • PowerPoint posted below
    • Website:

 IV. Happenings

 Science On the Move (Katie Burch):

For more information from November’s meeting, please review the PowerPoint.



ACE Mentor Program Presentation:

Meeting Minutes – August 31, 2016

Collaborative Meeting
August 31, 2016
@ Roper Mountain Science Center
Refreshments provided by Accelerate Learning!

I. Introduction & Welcome: 

Attendance: Melinda Ammerman, Jessica Austin, Ashely Burns, Chris Burras, Kelly Byers, Ken Carter, Bob Choban, Fay Choban, Victoria Corbin, Alice Gilchrist, Kevin Kunkle, Deanna Ludwick, Lynn Mann, Louise Mariani, Val Mosher, Rick Murphy, Tom Peters, DeDee Quinn, Thomas Riddle, Katie Rishebarger, Caren Senter, Paul Sharp, Jodie Shirley, Tiffany Tate, Susie Teague, Lee Vartanian, Cheryl Wiggins

 II. Review of Organization

  • Who we are and how we started
  • The new website & communication resources –

III. Our Priorities (Future Committees)

  • Bridge the Opportunity Gap: Support/grow mobile STEM programs to bridge the opportunity gap in STEM education in rural and urban areas across the state.
  • Increase Awareness: Increase community awareness of STEM careers and access to these careers in our region.
  • Increase & Facilitate Collaboration: Map and align STEM resources in our region to increase access, awareness, and effectiveness.
  • Support STEM Volunteers: Develop a plan to recruit, retain and organize skilled professional volunteers to support STEM programs across our region. 

III. Collaborative Feedback & Goals

What do you want to see in the next year?

  • More participation from outlying counties (i.e. Abbeville, Greenwood)
  • Engagement beyond Greenville
  • Increase network of collaborative
  • More companies (outside Greenville)
  • More collaborating among different initiatives
  • See various groups work together / collaborate (instead of pockets)
  • Additional companies from surrounding areas/counties
  • Awesome marketing to increase awareness of STEM collaborative
  • Better marketing and awareness
  • Spread the word of assets and how to make use of them
  • More cohesive messaging about STEM
  • iMAGINE Upstate’s continued success and growth
  • iMAGINE Rock Hill – Big
  • Maintenance of asset map & sharing
  • Asset mapping
  • Need to grow STEM Linx to become more than just a place to list events. Is it really statewide?
  • Increase promotion of STEM Linx
  • Stem Linx usage?
  • Job shadowing and/or internship opportunities for High School Students (more than manufacturing)
  • Recruiting and training STEM/STEAM-minded teacher
  • Volunteer opportunities for teacher candidates or future teachers to support and volunteer at STEM/STEAM initiatives
  • What volunteer groups are we missing? Do we have and help out with out of school programs?
  • Upstate STEM roundup (?) bridge the gap
  • High school students can job shadow and / internships at local companies
  • Career awareness for 7th /8th and high school
  • Mentoring careers (middle – high) – hangouts
  • Solar eclipse > aerospace starting point and continues in future years
  • Collaboration for total solar eclipse project (Girl Scouts) and continuation with a focus on aerospace/astronomy
  • Creation of speakers/exhibitor list
  • More mobile labs

What would you like to see in the next 3 years?

  • Focus on STEM by higher ed.
  • Higher education STEM credentials
  • Young teachers need to catch up
  • Push teacher education in this area
  • STEM certification for educators
  • STEM certifications
  • Continued growth and success of Upstate SC STEM Collaborative with an effective structure and sustainability
  • Would like to still be able to be here as a collaborative and serve as a national model.
  • Enhancing global technology and awareness/promotion
  • Platform for resource dissemination and networking for collaborative projects
  • Brings together diverse professionals with a common interest and host of different perspectives, resources, and backgrounds
  • Expand Science on the Move
  • Expand Science on the Move to Low Country, midlands and Pee Dee
  • Support Science On the Move with more human resources
  • Go beyond “in school” time – Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, Day Cares, State Parks with “out of school” time
  • Mentor programs
  • Increase or have more focus on afterschool learning time and rural areas
  • Mentor program
  • Reach all students in all schools
  • Summer programs
  • Focus on all schools
  • Expanding to more schools
  • Summer enrichment organizing
  • Develop a library of careers and videos
  • List of speakers, their expertise, willingness to talk to students/classrooms/community groups

Why are you part of/interested in learning about joining the Collaborative?

  • Increasing awareness of STEM region wide to better educate children & prepare them for STEM careers, breaking the cycle of poverty.
  • Networking
  • Learning about new resources
  • To find assistance/ideas to bring back to Girls Scouts and/or to help with expending to all girls to learn about STEM
  • Support all tings STE(A)M across the Upstate, as well as South Carolina

What initiative(s) need(s) the most attention?

  • They are all working together to some point but the asset map and organizing volunteers seems to need the most attention
  • Improve STEM asset map & market so more people can use it
  • Knowing what all these other organizations are doing
  • Getting STEM resources to underserved children (high poverty areas)
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Mentoring and internships
  • iMAGINE Upstate
  • More Science on the Move
  • “STEM Innovator moment”

 IV. Happenings

 Science On the Move 

  • Mentors needed for 4-H Science Youth Teams (Gaffney, Spartanburg, and Greenville)
  • Get in touch with Katie at!

Lowcountry SC STEM Collaborative Update:

Dremel 3D Printing Resource:

  • Dremel has launched a new printer and resources for EDU
  • Working on getting some feedback to them with Chris Beyerle and the kids at NEXT High School

 Development Events:

  • Upstate Summit with Ten at the Top on September 13, 2016 in Greenville. Go to for more information.
  • Next Steps Institute on September 26th – 28th in Charleston. Go to for more information
  • SC Future Minds – 9th Annual Public Education Partners Conference on October 14th in Columbia. Go to for more.

 Attend or Get Involved:

  • 1 Spark! on September 2nd & 3rd at Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. Go to
  • Manufacturing Day on October 5th at ECPI – Greenville. Contact Donna Swanger at
  • Superhero Science on October 8th at Roper Mountain Science Center. Go to for more information.
  • Science + YOU Exhibit opening on September 17th at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Go go for more.

Be happening! 

Are you trying to spread the word about a STEM opportunity in the Upstate? Email Sarah at with the details and she will help!  You can also add public events to the iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Events Calendar –




Creating something new together

In South Carolina we create.

We are known globally for our ability to build, innovate, and produce. We are a leader in manufacturing and in advanced materials research among other great industry contributions. It comes as no surprise that our region is also home to great companies like BMW, Michelin North America, Fluor, Bosch, GE, and ScanSource. On top of being a great place to work, the Upstate is great place to live. Our region has a sense of community that is hard to explain unless you experience it first hand.

My Road to the Upstate


My roots are in northeast Ohio. I grew up cheering on Cleveland sports (go Cavs!) and battling the winter snow storms. After finishing my degree at Ohio University, I had  hunger to experience something new and to never shovel snow off my Jeep again. I  was one of seven to dive into a new STEAM graduate program at Clemson University and joined the inaugural co-hort of the MACTS program. I worked at a local public relations firm in Greenville and served as the research assistant for the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson during  graduate school. After countless late nights in the grad office, early mornings in the library, and an impossibly long thesis I am honored to have graduated with the first MACTS co-hort. 

Our class and faculty created a new model for studying communications and digital analytics – this took true collaboration. After graduation, I stayed in South Carolina to continue my career in public relations with a major focus on digital communications. 

I am so pleased to call South Carolina home today. The Upstate is home to breathtaking lakes, mountains,trails, and parks. There always seems to be a concert, art show, robot build, athletic event, tech talk, or… street festival on my calendar.

The Upstate Community

Many of you who know me know that I find a great deal of gratification in community outreach. My spare time is spent volunteering or serving on community boards. You get out of life what you put in.

I am fortunate to have had a constant stream of tremendous mentors throughout my career. In true South Carolina spirit, these mentors have all encouraged me to create something new, have integrity, and be critical of the status quo. Taking the director role of the Upstate SC STEM Collaborative is not something that I take lightly. Nan Dempsey, my predecessor made great contributions to STEM education and our community developemnt. I am forever grateful for her advisement over the past two years while working on the iMAGINE Upstate program.

Creating Progress

I intend to contribute to our region and help create STEAM education resources that South Carolina can put to work. The Collaborative has already made great progress and I look forward to helping write our next chapter.

Thank you for welcoming me into this wonderful community and for giving me the opportunity to be part of our regional economic momentum through STEAM education.


Sarah Arbogast

We bring STEM to YOU

With access brings impact.

When we launched the Collaborative, we set out to bring STEM into every community in our region. With the support of Clemson University, 4-H, and South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science the Collaborative was able to help facilitate the longterm support and growth of the Science On the Move program.

Science On the Moves is run by Cherokee trailblazer, Katie Rishebarger.


The Collaborative has identified a growing opportunity gap in educational opportunity based on geographic location. This is problem seen on a national level. Mobile STEM programs bring education and training to underserved youth in rural and urban areas across the country. Science On the Move focuses on exposing children to STEM fields directly related to regional career opportunities in South Carolina.

You didn’t just hear it from us….

“Science on the Move has been a terrific asset to my classroom instruction. The hands-on programs are perfect for supplementing our current curriculum and the students have enjoyed them as well as learned far more than they could have from a book. Robin and Katie are extremely professional and go the extra mile to accommodate and assist in any way possible to make the experience seamless. I appreciate everyone that has made this opportunity possible for my students.”

– York Preparatory Academy Science Teacher

We want say THANK YOU to Katie for all of her hard work moving STEM across the Upstate. Be on the lookout for her mobile STEM trailer in your community.