Spring Into STEM WRITTEN BY SAVANNAH JANTSCH
pring Into STEM is a three-month long expo whose goal is to inform students, teachers, and family members of all ages about the job opportunities that can sprout from developing an interest in and pursuing education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The exhibitions are taking place all over the county and consist of many interactive activities and presentations from prominent advocates of STEM. The Snohomish STEM Network is producing the expo. The STEM Network formed in 2013 and is funded by a grant from the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County and Washington Alliance for Better Schools. “The Network strives to raise awareness and provide learning opportunities to foster home grown students for the high demand jobs that are in the county,” said Deborah Squires, director of the Snohomish STEM Network. “Washington is ranked first for STEM jobs, and we are the second densest manufacturing area in the U.S., yet we are ranked 49th for preparedness.” With a rich economy and big aerospace companies like Boeing and Blue Origin, the region has some of the fastest growing, best paying jobs. Such expos as the ones made available during Spring Into STEM could lead those who participate to wonder, “Is a career in STEM for me?” The Expanding Your Horizons event, which occurred March 22 at Edmonds Community College, was geared toward girls in eighth grade and high school. The event included experiments with robots and the opportunity to learn about genetics with gummy worms. The event’s keynote speaker was Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, a high school teacher turned astronaut. On April 5, 2010, MetcalfLindenburger boarded a shuttle flight for the International Space Station (ISS). She worked as a flight engineer and robotic arm operator, among other things. She was the lead
Photos Courtesy © Snohomish STEM Network
inside the space ship while two of her crewmembers, Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson, did their spacewalks. They returned to Earth after docking at the ISS for eleven days. “STEM will provide the answers to many of the toughest questions facing Washington, the United States, and the planet,” Metcalf-Lindenbuger said in an interview. “We need many people solving problems that are already happening due to climate change, drought, extinctions, disease, lack of food. We need people designing solutions and working with alternate energy.” Metcalf-Lindenburger taught earth and space science for five years at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, WA. She is currently co-teaching at Edmonds Community College while working towards getting her Master of Science degree at the University of Washington. Her passion for science and education is one of the primary reasons she was chosen to speak at the Expand Your Horizons event. There, MetcalfLindenburger discussed her journey of becoming an astronaut and how she started acting on her dream of flying amid the stars when she was in middle school, high school, and college. Another event, the Students of Color Career Conference occurred March 24. The STEM Network extended invitations to underrepresented middle school and high school students and anticipated more than 2,500 attendees. With a focus on women and students of color, the event was meant to show that STEM is for everybody. Squires said that she wants to tell young students from all backgrounds that we need them in STEM. Spring Into STEM events continue until June 6, when the programming concludes with the Innovation Expo, produced by Everett Public Schools. Held at the XFINITY Arena, the events include demonstrations and presentations, an industry partners showcase, keynote address, and the STEM Student Competition for students in fourth through ninth grades.