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SEEK 16 Summit Aims to Help Integrate Engineering and Technology Methods into America’s Classrooms

Feb. 3, 2005

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—How can America keep pace with other industrialized nations that excel in equipping their students to live in a global economy dominated by technology and engineering advances?

A select group of leaders in the fields of education, government and business plan to tackle that question at a unique forum in the nation’s capital Feb. 21-22. The goal of the Strategies for Engineering Education K-16 (SEEK-16) Summit will be to provide concrete plans for improving the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, literacy among students nationwide from kindergarteners to college undergraduates.

Dr. John Nemeth, vice president for partnership development at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), said classrooms from kindergarten to college must improve their STEM education for America to remain competitive in a global economy that is increasingly driven by science and technology innovation.

“From the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington today and throughout industry, academia, and government, the realization is spreading that this nation’s position as a world leader is, in the short-term, dependent upon its ability to produce scientists, engineers, and technologists,” Nemeth said. “SEEK-16 looks to galvanize the graying scientific community into concerted action to lead an effort to fill the growing void of scientific workers in the U.S.”

SEEK-16 was initiated as an entrepreneurial, grassroots effort to bring together a coalition of decision and opinion leaders from across learning, workforce, and economic communities. In addition to ORAU, the SEEK-16 Design Team consisted of representatives from Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering, Teaching Institute for Essential Science, National Academy of Engineering, Lockheed Martin Foundation, Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Carnegie Mellon University, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Services, and Baltimore County Public Schools.

Organizers of the SEEK-16 Summit hope that gathering key players in the fields of science and engineering education will produce strategies that can be implemented for increasing STEM literacy at all grade levels. The challenge questions that these leaders will address include:

  • Challenge Question 1: How can programs be established that use design, engineering, and technology concepts to ensure STEM literacy for all students across different learning and workforce communities?
  • Challenge Question 2: How can applying design, engineering and technology in science and mathematics teaching and learning ensure career success, workforce readiness, and lifelong learning?
  • Challenge Question 3: How do we link educational curricula and pedagogies employed in STEM education to meet these objectives?

The program, hosted at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington, D.C., will consist of three keynote addresses meant to challenge the attendees to envision how the principles of engineering design and technology in the workplace can be transferred to the classroom to improve students’ STEM literacy and create a more advanced, technologically literate national workforce.

The more than 200 summit attendees from across the country will represent a broad cross section of leaders from public school systems, major research universities, technology and engineering companies, and national education groups. The Summit is designed to provide a platform for the SEEK-16 Initiative to move into action through the creation of regional teams. It was felt that strength for change would come more readily from partnerships and communication within geographic regions. ORAU has organized three regional teams to be represented at SEEK-16. These include:

  • ORAU STEM Research Team: This team represents 25 of ORAU’s member institutions and will lead a SEEK-16 research study on the integration of engineering and technology principles into the math and science curriculum.
  • Oak Ridge Area Middle School Team: ORAU is sponsoring the participation of a team of middle school teachers representing Clinton, Jefferson, and Robertsville Middle Schools to attend the Summit. The result of their involvement will hopefully evolve into a pilot study for the Oak Ridge community.
  • Tri-Lateral Alliance Team: This is a regional team representing the Tennessee Valley Corridor and has members participating in the Summit from Oak Ridge, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, DoD’s Arnold Engineering Research Center, National Space Science and Technology Center, and the New Economy Institute.

Keynote speakers for the event include Dr. Yvonne Freeman, executive director, SECME, Inc.; Dr. Deborah Grubbe, corporate director of safety and health for the DuPont Corporation; Dr. Lauren Resnick, professor of psychology and director of the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Jonathan Osborne, professor of science education at King’s College London.

Following each keynote speech, attendees will divide into 10 working groups where they will take their experiences and the ideas that have emerged from the keynotes to formulate plans for integrating design, engineering and technology practices into new or existing school programs in their respective regions.

At the conclusion of the summit, facilitators from each regional workgroup will convene to compare the ideas developed by each group, compile their recommendations and develop follow-up plans to take back to educational environments around the country.

The Summit’s financial sponsors include: ASM International and ASM Materials Education Foundation, Computer Associates International, DuPont Corporation, FutureHealth Corporation, Intel Foundation, International Council on Systems Engineering, Lockheed Martin Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, National Fluid Power Association, National Science Foundation (NSF) and NSF’s Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and TechGuard Security, Inc.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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