On January 31, 2018, US2020 hosted the STEM Collaboratory event in Pittsburgh. This unique gathering, sponsored by Arconic Foundation, brought together the 15 finalist communities of the US2020 STEM Coalition Challenge The initial intent behind the STEM Collaboratory was to provide competing teams a chance to connect with experts and refine their ideas — it turned out to be so much more.
From Brooklyn, New York to Socorro, New Mexico, over 40 finalist representatives met for two days where they were able to seed relationships across the country and elevate their local knowledge and know-how. The finalists were joined by STEM experts and creative community builders such as Kumar Garg, Senior Fellow at Society for Science, and Dorothy Jones-Davis, Executive Director of Nation of Makers. Throughout their time together, they shared, learned, and inspired other teams to investigate new approaches for building local movements around STEM mentorship and maker-centered learning.
STEM Collaboratory attendee and finalist, Natasha Smith-Walker, Executive Director of Project Exploration in Chicago reflected on the event. “You did a fantastic job in really creating a unique experience for everyone to engage and learn. [We have] already come back with many ideas, and the sessions I attended have given me some ideas for work we should do with our STEM Co-op membership!”.
"Arconic Foundation was proud to support such an exceptional group of national leaders in STEM and Maker-focused learning at the STEM Collaboratory event in Pittsburgh. The week was filled with imaginative and compelling discussions that make us excited to see what's next for these communities. It will be exciting to see how US2020 can work with them to engage young people to become engaged in STEM." said Ryan Kish, Senior Program Manager at Arconic Foundation.
The experience of coming together, engaging with experts and other teams, and hearing more about work happening across the country has sparked new relationships, new learnings, and new solutions for how communities can collaborate to ignite more opportunities for students underrepresented in STEM. STEM Coalition Challenge winners will be announced this spring, with their maker-centered learning and STEM mentoring projects launching in summer 2018.