STEAM Park Cities People
Preston Hollow People
SCIENCE • TECHNOLOGY • ENGINEERING • ART • MATHEMATICS
Helping Today’s Youth Become Tomorrow’s Future JANUARY 2020
FOUNDATION HELPS HPISD TAKE STEAM TO EVERY CLASS
DALLAS ISD CENTER OFFERS 500 ACRES OF SCIENCE
AMBASSADORS GIVE GIRLS ENGINEERING ROLE MODELS PHOTO BY KAITLYN KILPATRICK/PEROT MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE
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DALLAS BUILT IMPRESSIVE HIGH-TECH ECONOMY
But more training needed to keep up with workforce demands By BILL MILLER
allas is known for its heritage of cattle barons, big oil, and “America’s Team,” but some historians give Big D credit for launching the “Information Age.” In 1958 Jack Kilby, an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments, invented the integrated circuit, also called the “microchip.” Today, according to the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has the seventh-highest concentration of high-tech jobs in the U.S. — 252,650 of them. Many Dallas businesses, therefore, are champions for education programs that blend science, technology, engineering, and math — called “STEM.”
The thing I lose sleep over is, ‘Can we reach the kids who don’t have a computer at home?’ Drexell Owusu “We think it is a sizeable universe of companies contributing to this work,” said Drexell Owusu, the chamber’s senior vice president
Business leaders say STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is vital, so Dallas can keep attracting companies like Uber Technologies. The 23-story Uber headquarters is expected to open in late 2022 in The Epic, an 8-acre mixed-use area under development by Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management beside Deep Ellum. (PHOTO COURTESY WESTDALE) of education and workforce. “But the reality is the pressure is going to accelerate.” A STEM curriculum is interdisciplinary, providing coursework that simultaneously teaches the fields represented in the acronym. It’s designed to nurture a student’s ability to draw upon all four of them to think deeply and solve problems. There are other variations of this concept, like “STEAM,” which adds an “A” for arts. For example, a graphic design student must
master modern software to create the cutting-edge designs demanded in competitive advertising markets. The various STEM/STEAM paths draw numerous other advocates, including the Dallas Independent School District, the Dallas County Community College District, Southern Methodist University, The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Community Council of Greater Dallas. Earlier this year, Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill announced a $25 million commitment to inspire girls
in STEM through “IF/THEN.” This new initiative is from the mantra, “If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.” Owusu recently chaired a roundtable discussion for Dallas Innovates about STEM/STEAM education. Panelists included local stakeholders who shared their organizations’ efforts. Sorabh Saxena, president of global operations and services for AT&T Business, said the company gave $2.4 million to STEM
education in Dallas-Fort Worth during the past four years. Hilary Jackson, vice president of technology at Capital One Financial Services, said her company advocates STEM/STEAM through its Future Edge Initiative, National Academy Foundation, and Capital One Coders program. Oswaldo Alvarenga, executive director of Dallas ISD’s STEM department, described the schools’ STEM Expo, held in January, to showcase student projects involving high-tech fields like artificial intelligence and robotics. About 5,000 attendees, including parents, have seen what students can do, and realize the potential for their children, Alvarenga said. But even with so much attention and money for STEM/ STEAM, Owusu warned about a possible gap. “The thing I lose sleep over,” he said, “‘Is can we reach the kids who don’t have a computer at home?’” He praised Dallas ISD for recently winning a grant from the 1Million Project Foundation. The money pays for 5,000 mobile LTE hotspot devices for high school students who previously had no Internet access at home. “This generation of students is more digitally savvy than ever before,” Owusu said. “But above and beyond that, we want to ensure these skills reach everyone.”
Community Council To Launch ‘5,000 Jobs 2020’ Initiative
Nonprofit provides technical skill training needed to earn livable wages By BILL MILLER
ON THE WEB
Special Contributor The Dallas mom’s stress was enormous. SheDarrylle Davis was raising two children on her own but had no education to qualify for a “middle-skills” career like nursing. It’s a familiar story in Dallas where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22 percent of residents live in poverty. Meanwhile, Dallas has tens of thousands of unfilled middle-skills jobs. These occupations require education or training beyond high school, but not a four-year college degree. School children get technical training through specialized curriculum involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But adults aren’t alone in their hopes for a better future. The Community Council of Greater Dallas helps unskilled people become able workers who can earn a “livable wage.” “That’s about $24.24 an hour in Dallas,” said Janie Bordner,
Community Council of Greater Dallas https://www.ccadvance.org/ 5,000 Jobs 2020 https://www.dallas5000jobs.org/ Interfaith Family Services https://interfaithdallas.org/ United Way of Metropolitan Dallas https://unitedwaydallas.org/ Clients get tips on improving their resumes. (COURTESY PHOTO) the council’s president and CEO. “And if you’re not making that, you’re not making enough to squeak by. You better not have an emergency of any kind.” Numerous nonprofits have joined the fight against poverty inNorth Texas, including Interfaith Family Services, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Child Poverty Action Lab, to name a few. The Community Council, however, has been in the fight for nearly 80 years. It offers a wide range of
services, first helping clients with necessities so they can focus on skills training. Financial assistance helps cover childcare, transportation, food, utilities, and even temporary housing, Bordner said. Next, is a wide range of training through the program “Skill QUEST,” taught at the council’s offices, 1341 Mockingbird Lane. For example, people interested in information technology (IT) careers can learn “full-stack” web
Child Poverty Action Lab https://childpovertyactionlab.org/ development, the Python programming language, and cybersecurity. “Once you graduate, you get a certificate,” Bordner said. “And, all this training is project-based, so you can make a portfolio as well.” The council wants to connect 5,000 people with middle skills jobs in 2020. This “5,000 Jobs 2020” initiative launches in January with a goal to raise $3 million for skills training and other services. The money is intended to
match a $3 million Community Services Block grant, Bordner said. Visit dallas5000jobs.org to donate. Helping people escape poverty improves their households but also gives them spending power that boosts the local economy, Bordner said. And, she noted, helping 5,000 adults will have spin-off benefits for an estimated 20,000 people, considering many of the clients have families. “They’re not asking for a handout,” Bordner said. “They want to get working and to give back to the community.’” One such resident is the afore-mentioned single mother, SheDarrylle Davis. The council helped her become a nurse. “They took care of everything, from tuition, to books, to uniforms,” she said. “Keeping up with my studying and assignments was stressful enough. Skill QUEST gave me peace of mind by eliminating my financial worries. I really thought (it) was too good to be true. I’m forever grateful.”
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Highland Park Makes Every Class a STEAM Class Moody Foundation funded curriculum changes, new high school center By Rachel Snyder People Newspapers
Highland Park ISD incorporates STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) in all classes. The district has expanded its STEAM-related curriculum in recent years thanks to a fiveyear, $5.8 million grant from the Moody Foundation. HPISD’s STEAM initiative began about three years ago, with 26 pilot teachers creating lessons across campuses and grade levels. “We have been very pleased with the early impact of our STEAM program on students and teachers across the district,” said Geoffrey Orsak, executive director of the Moody Innovation Institute. STEAM jobs are expected to account for 60 percent of new jobs created in the U.S. this century with jobs requiring advanced STEAM education expected to grow by as much as 45 percent in the same time frame, according to HPISD’s website.
We have been very pleased with the early impact of our STEAM program on students and teachers across the district. Geoffrey Orsak “We want to show students the career options that are out there,” Orsak said. STEAM coaches Ashley Jones and Ericca Vandagriff work with teachers across the district to incorporate STEAM concepts and activities into lessons, even in classes people may not expect, like foreign language classes. For example, Orsak said they’ve included lessons about disaster response in France in French courses. Jones has worked for more than 12 years in education in various positions in Garland ISD,
McCulloch Intermediate and Highland Park Middle School students work on projects. (COURTESY PHOTOS) Richardson ISD, and Georgetown ISD before joining HPISD as a STEAM coach. Vandagriff has worked in HPISD for more than 12 years and taught fifthgrade science at McCulloch Intermediate before becoming a STEAM coach. Jones said projects they’ve worked on recently include
building a life-sized gingerbread house for the holidays. One of the projects Vandagriff is most proud of is McCulloch fifth-graders’ winning best overall exhibit at the Earthx2019 Expo for their project that showed how plastics get into watersheds and oceans and the impact that has on ecosystems.
MAPS Center Offers College-Level Classes, Expert Speakers By Rachel Snyder
from the business world,” Howland said. “I feel I’m a better teacher.” Lauren Hickey, a student, said she enjoys the speakers and experience the MAPS Center offers. “It provides a different learning experience than any other class,” Hickey said. “It’s an interactive experience.”
The new Moody Advanced Professional Studies (MAPS) Center in Highland Park High School offers students the opportunity to take college-level classes and learn from experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts, math (STEAM), and business. Juniors and seniors get the opportunity to combine traditional coursework with college-level classes, including business design and leadership, and engineering design. The MAPS Center has 10 3D printers, six plug-and-play monitors for students to work collaboratively on projects, upto-date software, a laser etcher and cutter, and other technology. Students began using the center this fall. The business design and leadership class incorporates entrepreneurship, AP Microeconomics, and Economics Advanced Studies, and the Engineering Design class combines the practices and procedures used in engineering and in making aesthetic decisions. “You’d have to be crazy to put engineering and design in the same class at the same time unless you wanted to do something remarkable,” Moody Innovation Institute executive director Geoffrey Orsak said. “We’re mixing two classes at the same time, so (students) can see how these two ideas intersect together.” MAPS Director Michael Warren said
You’d have to be crazy to put engineering and design in the same class at the same time unless you wanted to do something remarkable. Geoffrey Orsak
Students, faculty, and staff attended the opening of the Moody Advanced Professional Studies Center at Highland Park High School in October. (PHOTO BY RACHEL SNYDER) the district developed the curriculum and built the space based on student interests and preparing them for the workforce. “It takes a lot of support and buy-in from more than the school district,” Warren said. “It leans on the support of the community;
it leans on the support of professionals.” MAPS Business Design and Leadership teacher Jerry Howland said the new curriculum and facility allows him to take a different approach with his students. “We try to bring a lot of guest speakers in
Adelaide Aiken said she uses programs like the 3D modeling program SketchUp, MATLAB, Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign in her Engineering Design class. The center is also home to the EarthX globe until around February. “Our hope is (students) can use (the globe) in their lessons,” STEAM Coach Ericca Vandagriff said. The globe can enhance lessons on a wide range of topics, from climate to bird migration. Original funding for the MAPS program came in the form of a $5.8 million STEAM grant from the Moody Foundation.
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500 Acres and Endless Science Lessons
Learning gets real at Dallas ISD STEM Environmental Education Center By Bethany Erickson People Newspapers
More than 20,000 students come to Dallas ISD’s STEM Environmental Education Center in Seagoville each school year. However, administrators still view it as one of the best-kept secrets in the district. “I try to advertise we’re here as much as possible, but somehow, some people just don’t know we’re out here,” said Mark Broughton, the center’s director. The center sits on 500 acres and offers teachers and students opportunities to do field and lab research and get hands-on science lessons they might not be able to recreate easily in their school classrooms. It employs four teachers, plus Broughton, supervisor Bob Gorman, and administrative and other staff. “ We have 300 acres of forest preserve, and then the other 200 acres is mostly farmland,” Broughton explained. “Students mostly from Dallas ISD – but any ISD or charter school can visit - come out, and they do mostly field investigations for science.” The center sees up to 240 students per day, who go through a mix of self-guided instruction with their classroom teacher, and programmed lessons with the center’s instructors. “We could take them to the forests and do forest ecology. We have a couple ponds so we can do aquatic science,” he added. “We have a working farm with some cows and pigs and ducks and chickens and turkeys, a sheep, and a goat, so they could see what a working farm is like.” Broughton said that for many of the students, it’s their first time to visit a forest or a farm. “I can tell when I talk to them, because I’ll ask them if they’ve been in a forest before and they’ll tell me, yes, but they’re thinking about the five trees that grow close to each other at the park,” he said. “Then we get a quarter-mile into a real forest, and their eyes kind of get wide and they get real quiet and start asking questions like, ‘Are we going to see monkeys?’ “Or I’ll ask them where milk comes from, and they just say Wal-Mart,” he said. “So then we introduce them to our dairy cow.” The facility also has a fossil pavilion for studying geology, an observatory for nighttime astronomy classes, three nature trails, four science laboratories, a 70-seat theater, gardens, outdoor classrooms, and a planetarium. An indoor facility includes interactive exhibits and space to interact with live amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. “Depending on the grade level, we offer
Or I’ll ask them where milk comes from, and they just say Wal-Mart. So then we introduce them to our dairy cow. Mark Broughton
anywhere from three to like eight different programs, so the visiting teacher will choose the program they want for their kids,” Broughton said. “They just get to come out and do all kinds of science,” Broughton said. “We see all grades, too, from as young as 3 years old up to seniors in high school.”
DISD’s STEM Environmental Education Center sees up to 240 students a day. (PHOTOS COURTESY DALLAS ISD)
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Dallas ISD STEM Expo a Family Learning Opportunity By Jordan Kiefer
enough time to see and do everything!” The expo started in 2014 at Skyline High School, and in the seven years since, has grown and developed exponentially. With more than 5,000 in attendance last year, the expo is now the biggest STEM event in Texas. “We try and switch things up and update based on what people say,” Alexander said. “What can we do differently? We always seek to make things better for everyone involved and grow an interest in STEM in our community.” The 2020 activities and organization will include Dallas Zoo, T-Mobile, wellness booths, national and international engineer organizations, coding exercises, Girl Scouts, aviation organizations, and the planetarium. Scheduled sessions include Robots on the Move, 3D Printing, Concrete Bowling, Build Your Own Flashlight, and Green Screen Tech.
Special Contributor The purpose of the annual Dallas ISD STEM Expo is to pique interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, get children excited about learning, and show students just how impactful STEM is in the world. The motto of the 2020 expo, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Kay Bailer Hutchinson Convention Center: “Come, explore, design, build, and create.” Organizers expect museums, STEM-focused organizations, engineering organizations, and local colleges and universities to provide more than 150 hands-on exhibits focused on STEM-related careers and coursework. Visitors will get the chance to learn about collegiate academies, STEM/ STEAM campuses (the “A” is for art), and the technical and career education pathways. The expo also serves as the culminating event for these district championships: Lego Robotics Competition. VEX Robotics Competition, Science Fair, Mathematics Olympiad Video Challenge, and Mathematics Bridge Building Competition. “It’s chaotic, but to see all the smiling faces and seeing everyone having a good time, being excited while learning or being a part of a new experience is amazing,” said Crystal Alexander, STEM manager for Dallas ISD. “The only complaints I hear are from people saying that they didn’t have
R E G I S T R AT I O N O P E N WHAT: Dallas ISD STEM Expo, a free event open to Dallas area students and families WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 18 WHERE: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas Visitors to the Dallas ISD STEM Expo often don’t have enough time to see and do everything.
The Robots Are Coming Dallas to host championships again beginning in 2021 By Maddie Spera
Special Contributor Robotics fanatics, gear up! The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation’s VEX Robotics World Championship, presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, will return to Dallas from 2021 to 2024. The week-long event celebrates hands-on STEM learning as the world’s top teams gather to compete in robotics competitions focused on creative design and problem-solving. The championship showcases students’ technical skills and accomplishments through the following programs: the VEX IQ Challenge (elementary and middle school), the VEX Robotics Competition (middle school and high school), and VEX U (college/university). “Robotics teams from across the world compete in these programs on a local level throughout the year, culminating in 1,650 teams who qualified to attend the VEX Robotics World Championship based on their success at
the regional championship,” said Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission. The competition will kick off with opening ceremonies, then move to high-energy matches where students put their custom-built robots to the test with the help of mentors, educators, and professional engineers. “Over the course of four days, the different divisions compete in robotic engineering challenges to ultimately be crowned World Champions,” said Jenn DeBarge-Goonan, CEO of Rocket Social Impact. “Spectators get immersed into the highly dynamic environment and will experience innovation, teamwork, and creative problem-solving at its best.” Local schools are welcome and encouraged to participate in the competition. A World Champion crowned in 2019 was from Flower Mound High School, and the REC Foundation hopes to see more local schools vying for championships, Paul said. “This competition has grown significantly over the years on a local level because it has been an
Louisville, Kentucky, hosted the 2019 VEX World Championships. (PHOTO COURTESY THE REC FOUNDATION) inspiration for fellow students to be a part of a highly rewarding experience,” Debarge-Goonan said. “Nothing gets people fired up like the excitement of head-to-head competition. Either in the classroom or after school, students are given a chance to create and design a robot, build it, program it, and compete with other teams in their community. By building a robot,
students open their eyes to exciting career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” The championship will take place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas. Dallas hosted the competition in 2009 and 2010, and Paul said the REC Foundation is excited to bring it back to the area and extend the
STEM education and opportunities here within our community. “As a hotbed for STEM jobs and the home of the REC Foundation, based close by in Greenville, Dallas is the perfect choice for the competition,” DeBarge-Goonan said. “We know firsthand how committed the city is to innovation, STEM education, and the future workforce.”
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IF/THEN Program Gives Girls Role Models
Lydia Hill CEO: STEM examples will help students believe By Lisa Ferguson
Special Contributor As the daughter of a physician, Nicole Small was exposed to science at an early age. “I was always interested in it, but I didn’t know my career options,” Small said. She went on to study political science and business in college before becoming the CEO of Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which in 2019 announced a $25 million commitment in support of the IF/THEN initiative.
We want to create a cultural shift about the perception of what a scientist or engineer looks like. Nicole Small Designed to help advance women “innovators” in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), IF/THEN is working to “inspire the next generation of pioneers,” namely middle school-age girls, by raising awareness about the growing number of occupations and fields that require such knowledge and skills, including social media, fashion design, and professional sports.
FROM LEFT: Former first lady Laura Bush, Lyda Hill, Geena Davis, and Nicole Small attend the IF/THEN Ambassador Summit in October. (PHOTO COURTESY GOODMAN MEDIA) “STEM is everywhere, in almost every career at this point,” explained Small, who for a dozen years served as CEO of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science before joining Lyda Hill in 2013. Founded by Dallas entrepreneur Hill, the organization is “committed to funding transformational advances in science and nature, empowering nonprofit organizations” and improving communities in North Texas as well as in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2015, only 24 percent of all STEM jobs nationwide were held by women. Whether it is climate change or cancer research, “We need every mind at the table to try to solve these issues, and we need it fast,” Small said. “If you’re leaving a good part of the population out from the conversation, are you getting the best ideas?” As part of the IF/THEN initiative, “We’re listening to what these women have
faced as women in science, and we’re looking at these kids not really seeing a lot of women in science. … You come back to the age-old (adage), `If you can see it, you can be it.’ “If you’re going to school, you’re watching TV, you’re watching YouTube … and you don’t see a wide variety of people who look like you, you don’t begin to associate yourself with those opportunities,” Small explained. “Conversely, if … you are experiencing and interacting with people who look like you, you begin to believe, `If she can do it, I can do it.’” To demonstrate this, 125 female STEM professionals from throughout the U.S. were selected in 2019 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to serve as IF/THEN ambassadors. Small said the hope is that they will be “high-profile role models” who empower girls to pursue STEM careers. Ten women from throughout North Texas were appointed ambassadors. The initiative is also co-producing “Mission Unstoppable,” a weekly children’s program that airs Saturday mornings on CBS. It highlights the work of female scientists and others in STEM professions. IF/THEN also has paired with organizations including Girl Scouts of the USA and Teach for America to help further its mission. “We want to create a cultural shift about the perception of what a scientist or engineer looks like,” Small said.
Makins Finds Beautiful Learning in Failure
OTHER NORTH TE X AS AMBAS SADORS Minerva Cordero, UT Arlington, associate dean of science
Newly named ‘ambassador’ leads NASA Rover Team at Parish By Lisa Ferguson
Special Contributor As director of the STEM Education program at Parish Episcopal School, Jennifer Makins knows that failure can be just as valuable a lesson for students to experience as success. Earlier this year, she applied to be an ambassador for the IF/ THEN initiative, which is working to expose middle-school-age girls to STEM-related careers. It is supported by a $25 million commitment from Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies. As part of the application process, Makins opted to highlight challenges her students have faced over the years, as well as the few victories they’ve savored. “A benefit to STEM (education) … is the beauty and the learning that comes through failing,” she said. “I think the more that kids have that tenacity and the mindset of, `All right, let’s figure it out, and let’s not be afraid,’ especially girls, the better the world will be.” Makins was among the 125
“women innovators” from throughout the nation, including 10 from North Texas, who were selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to serve as IF/THEN ambassadors. They represent a variety of STEM-related professions – from medicine and sports to fashion – and act as role models for girls by demonstrating the growing number of math and science-related career opportunities that are available. In October, nearly all of the ambassadors convened in Dallas for media and other training at the IF/THEN Summit. Raised in Dallas, Makins has been on staff at Parish for more than a decade. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she studied space policy at George Washington University and formerly worked as an education associate at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. She began her teaching career at Good Shephard Episcopal School in Dallas and helped found its Lower School Science program. At Parish, Makins co-leads the Rover Team. Each year, the
Julie Mirpuri, UT Southwestern Medical Center, assistant professor Becca Peixotto, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, director, Center for the Exploration of the Human Journey Myria Perez, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, fossil preparator Members of the Parish Episcopal School Rover Team, led by Jennifer Makins, prepare to drive the vehicle they built for a NASA competition. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER MAKINS)
mostly female team competes in NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Huntsville, Alabama. The students design and construct a vehicle that is put through paces on a course meant to mimic the out-of-this-world terrain of other planets. In 2014, during the Parish team’s first appearance in the elite competition, the wheels of its rover literally fell off during the contest. The group finished 47th out of 50 international high school teams. However, as a result of their determination, Makins’ students were invited the following year to speak about their experience as part of
the TedxSMU lecture series (it can be viewed on YouTube. Search for “Daunted & Lost”). She said NASA had featured a video of the students’ speech at workshops. “To find out that … NASA has been using it to inspire other teachers and kids – that doesn’t happen every day,” Makins said. When the Rover Team returned to the competition in 2015, it finished in seventh place and took home several awards. “I do on a daily basis (at Parish) what they are hoping to do at the (IF/THEN) initiative,” Makins said. “We just teach all kids how to think like a problem solver.”
Danielle Robertson, UT Southwestern Medical Center, associate professor Nina Niu Sanford, UT Southwestern, assistant professor Nicole Sereika, Southwest Airlines, aviation maintenance technician Kirsten Tulchin-Francis, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, division director of movement science Jennifer Stimpson, The Hockaday School, middle school educator, innovator, scientist
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Girls Who Code Aims to Address Gender Gap
Activist alerts parents, their daughters to opportunities in computers By Bethany Erickson People Newspapers
Reshma Saujani is on a mission to bring up a worldwide cohort of girls who can code – despite not knowing how to do so herself. And while that might seem like a mind-bender, the Girls Who Code founder said that her situation is actually a great way to illustrate to the parents of her core audience that just because they don’t know how to code, doesn’t mean they can’t encourage their daughters to get involved. “I just don’t feel like it’s a prerequisite that we have to know how to do it for our kids to learn how to do it,” she said during a break in Comerica Bank’s recent Dallas Women’s Business Symposium, where she was keynote speaker. “It’s economic opportunity – take, for instance, how much you make as a software engineer, something like $120,000 a year. “Those are the conversations I have in those communities where they’re like, ‘Wait, my kid can make what?’” Saujani, an attorney and activist,
first gained notice when she ran for Congress in 2010. That foray into politics led her to the classroom, where she saw a gender gap in computing classes that led to the start of Girls Who Code.
You have to let your girls get dirty and use their hands to fix things and to break things. You have to let them learn how to solve problems. We need to be very intentional about what we put in front of our girls. Reshma Saujani Saujani points to the ongoing gender gap in the computer science
MORE ONLINE • Visit our website to read more of our conversation with Reshma Saujani. • Check out GirlsWhoCode.com to learn more about the organization she founded.
Reshma Saujani visited North Texas in the fall. (COURTESY PHOTO) field as the driving force behind her organization, which has now served more than 185,000 students to date. It has more than 700 clubs in Texas and roughly 11 in the Dallas area, including clubs or programs at the Hockaday School, some Dallas ISD schools, and the Dallas Public Library. “Dallas is actually one of our largest networks of Girls Who Code,” she said. The link between learning to code and changing the world,
Saujani said, is also something she hopes her organization can demonstrate. “Girls want to change the world – they think about things like ‘my friend’s being bullied at school,’ or ‘my brother’s dyslexic,’ and a lot of other things they want to solve,” she said, adding that showing girls how to use technology to address those problems is paramount. The organization’s other aim is to get more women in computer science fields.
“When we started in 2012, people talked about this issue like there was a pipeline problem – there’s just not enough women, there’s just not enough people of color,” Saujani said. “And now, seven years later, we’ve taught a lot of that, but now the challenge is, ‘Will you hire them?’” So what do you do, if you’re a parent of a girl, to make sure they at least know that coding is an option? “To me, it’s even deeper than that,” Saujani said. “You have to let your girls get dirty and use their hands to fix things and to break things. You have to let them learn how to solve problems. We need to be very intentional about what we put in front of our girls.”
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‘Alignment of the Stars’ To Create STEM Campus
SMU, Dallas ISD, Toyota unite for pioneering school in West Dallas By Mitch Gruen
Special Contributor When Stephanie Knight became the dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development in 2017, she had a vision for a campus that would integrate everything she had learned in her decades-long career as an educator and education researcher. She imagined a mold-breaking school, deeply involved in its surrounding community, and using evidence-based education research to prepare students, parents, and teachers for success. But Knight never expected that all the pieces of such a massive project would materialize and fall into place during her first year at SMU.
STEM is everywhere. Even if you don’t go into a STEM field, you’re going to live in a STEM world. Dr. Richard Duschl After helping to create the MLB Youth Academy in 2017, the Toyota USA Foundation wanted to continue its involvement in the West Dallas community. It sought guidance from the Simmons School and SMU’s Budd Center.
Plans include remodeling Dallas ISD’s soonto-be-former Pinkston High School to open in 2021 as a new STEM campus in West Dallas. Pinkston High is moving into a new campus.
(PHOTOS COURTESY DALLAS ISD)
Once a private nonprofit and now a subsidiary of Simmons, the Budd Center has spent the past decade in West Dallas, focusing on students who live in marginalized and low-income communities. Its mission: creating a social safety net that prevents students from falling through the cracks on their way to high school graduation. After a series of meetings and input from Dallas ISD and the West Dallas community, Simmons received a $2 million grant from Toyota for planning a new
STEM school in West Dallas. Since 2018, design teams comprised of representatives from SMU, Toyota, Dallas ISD, and the West Dallas community have been hard at work completing models for curriculum and community engagement, laying the foundation for the school to open its doors to the inaugural class in the fall of 2021. The range of contributors, all leaders in their fields and passionate about education, have given the project an extraordinary feel.
Dean Knight refers to their collaboration as an “alignment of the stars.” Toyota brings insights for educating today’s children for tomorrow’s jobs and a desire to provide a pathway by which West Dallas students can come into STEM fields via college, community college, or vocational work. The Budd Center’s intimate relationship with West Dallas will help the school to achieve the vision of a school involved in its surrounding community that provides opportunities and support for parents and students. Leaders at SMU — from Simmons, Dedman, and the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education — play a crucial role in shaping the curriculum and guiding teachers. Dallas ISD has provided the soon-tobe-former Pinkston High campus as the site for the new STEM school, and an architecture team is planning a remodel that will transform the former high school into a learning environment suitable for students ages 3 through 14. Dallas ISD will also name the school. The benefits of STEM education are numerous, regardless of the career path these future alumni ultimately take. “STEM is everywhere. Even if you don’t go into a STEM field, you’re going to live in a STEM world,” said Dr. Richard Duschl, executive director of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education.
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Innovative Private School Approaches Coming in Many Forms Dean’s Choice Award, which recognizes students for exhibiting excellence in a diverse array of categories.
Early childhood is the perfect time to introduce the magic of STEAM to a child. Katie Zeller
Ursuline students utilize a virtual 3D dissection table to better study anatomy. (COURTESY PHOTO) What does STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education look like at private schools? We checked around for a sampling of what they offer. Ursuline Academy Ursuline was one of the first six schools in the U.S. to pioneer the 1:1 laptop program in the U.S. in 1996, so the school’s ties to the tech world are long and storied. Nowadays, the school offers such classes as Engineering Design Innovation and anatomy – where they even have an Anatomage Table – a virtual 3D dissection table – and a Virtual Tee that, when paired with an app, helps students visualize various organs in the body. The school boasts that 100 percent of faculty completed training to become Microsoft
Innovative Educators and that the school was named Microsoft Showcase School for September 2019. That emphasis on STEAM education is paying off for alumnae. Dr. Allison Mathews, who graduated in 2003, is now a postdoctoral researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Social Medicine and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease, and serves at the director of the 2BeatHIV project, and founded Community Expert Solutions. In 2017, she was awarded the Dr. Hatch Early Career Professional Award at the North Carolina Health Equity Impact Awards. Jacqueline Gibson, who graduated in 2015 and went on to attend the University of Texas, was awarded the College of Natural Sciences
Good Shepherd Episcopal Twenty-five years ago, Good Shepherd Episcopal School launched Classroom of the Earth, which takes students on everything from nature hikes to 10-day adventures in the Rocky Mountains, all the while following ecologically friendly principles to leave the sites as pristine as they were when they arrived. Students also learn to use cutting edge and innovative tools to create and learn and also have access to personalized learning programs through child-centered technology offerings. Winston School Rather than teaching a fixed curriculum, the Winston School prides itself on aligning with a student’s learning style. The school offers specialized academies, including the Winston Solar Science Academy. Interested students get in-depth, hands-on learning by building, maintaining, and driving a solar car raced on a closed track and the open road in a cross-country race. Last year, the team raced at Texas Motor
Speedway, creating a car that completed 144 laps around the track. St. Michael Episcopal School Established in 1986 as a ministry of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, the school now serves more than 195 families with students ranging from toddlers to kindergarten. Among learning the basics of math, the school has partnered with the nearby DaVinci School to offer Science Explorers, which promotes STEAM concepts through hands-on learning and simple science experiments and explorations. In the summer, the school offers age-appropriate summer camps that can explore everything from the life cycles of bugs, Lego engineering, the five senses, and more. The Day School at Highland Park Presbyterian “Early childhood is the perfect time to introduce the magic of STEAM to a child,” said Katie Zeller, office and technology coordinator at The Day School for students ages 12 months through kindergarten. “Our interactive and hands-on program captures students’ imaginations and unleashes their creativity.” After reading about the Brooklyn Bridge, students might build their own, and teachers take advantage of what is going on near them to expose students to new occupations. “For example, we are watching and documenting the construction that is happening in our building, and our children now know all about architects, engineers, and electricians,” Zeller said. – Staff report
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Perot Museum Makes Science Fun Renovated hall becomes technological wonderland
I F YO U G O WHAT: The renovated Engineering and Innovation Hall features interactive exhibits. WHEN: Museum hours, 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sundays.
By Dalia Faheid
People Newspapers Inviting curious learners of all ages, the newly expanded Engineering and Innovation Hall at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science intends to bring out the innovator in every child and the child in every adult. Partnering with the Texas Instruments Foundation, the renovated exhibition spurs curiosity through fun stations, allowing visitors to explore their inner engineer and become inspired by local engineers. “You’re going to have an opportunity to engage in science in this really risk-free way, and find out that it’s fun, which is what you don’t learn in classrooms,” Perot’s CEO Linda Silver said. At the center of the 4,500-square-foot hall, two stations allow hands-on learners to play with robots using controllers to complete missions collaboratively. For visual learners, an attention-grabbing music coding sequencer stands out with a colorful LED display, allowing visitors to create music using light-up buttons.
You’re going to have an opportunity to engage in science in this really risk-free way, and find out that it’s fun, which is what you don’t learn in classrooms. Linda Silver
WHERE: Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2201 N. Field St. TICKETS: $13 for children, $20 for adults, and $18 for seniors. ONLINE: Visit perotmuseum.org. EXTRA: Exhibits are in Spanish and English.
Visitors interact with exhibits. (PHOTO BY KAITLYN KILPATRICK/PEROT MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE) Technology fanatics might look forward to a real-life ‘Snapchat filter’ with the facial recognition station, customizing their avatars and characters to use for themselves and friends. If you’re up for a challenge, the hall also features the 1,400-square-foot “ChallENGe
Lab,” where visitors engage in timed, thought-provoking engineering challenges such as a high-tech egg drop, where they work analytically and creatively on finding a solution. For younger learners, watching objects flow through the 23-foot “Amazing Airways”
wind tube can be exciting. Officials hope the hall will nourish young minds, igniting future innovation. “It’s certainly our sincere hope that this inspires some young minds to choose engineering as a profession and innovation as a passion,” Terry West, chair of the TI Foundation, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “But I think regardless of what young minds choose, this is a place that will inspire curiosity and a desire to help make our world just a little bit better through technology.”
Check It Out: Libraries Offer More Than Books STEAM kits, classes, events help make learning fun By Tanika Turner People Newspapers
Overheard at the Preston Royal Branch of the Dallas Public Library: a mother suggested to her daughter a trip to the State Fair of Texas, but the little girl had other ideas.
We provide a place for kids to blow off steam…no pun intended. Connie Maxwell “But what about STEM?” she asked. “I want to go to STEM.” Libraries have always been goto places when seeking knowledge and now also offer programs that
Children learn about the stars with a Night Sky Kit that includes a telescope. (COURTESY HIGHLAND PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY) cater to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) or STEAM (the “A” is for art) education. Of the five years Connie Maxwell has managed the Preston Royal Branch, the STEM program has been hosting STEM & Stories for four. The goal is to expose
school-aged children to STEM in fun ways. Laura Collins, the youth services librarian at the Highland Park Harvey R. “Bum” Bright Library, has noticed an equal interest from both girls and boys in the STEAM program there. The library has 11 STEAM kits
thanks to grants from La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas. The kits, available for children as young as 3, include a Night Sky kit, which contains a telescope and helps teach children about constellations and planets. With the Dash! robot kit, users do basic coding to make the robot respond to voice, surroundings, and other inputs. The Highland Park library also hosts events such as the Codea-thon and a Star Wars-themed technology lab for children, ages 9 to 14, who are interested in tech and coding. The library frequently combines old crafts with new technology such as virtual reality headsets. “We see a lot of people come in during finals,” Collins said. “We provide a place for kids to blow off steam…no pun intended.” University Park Public Library has been hosting STEAM Station
and Elementary Explorers for a year. While the STEAM Station is more interactive and hands-on, Elementary Explorers is more like a class where children ages 6 and older learn new concepts and how those ideas are used in everyday life. “I try to give them visuals to understand the concepts,” said Zoe Williams, University Parks youth services librarian. While the libraries may not tie into schools’ curriculum directly, librarians stay in touch with teachers to promote what the libraries have to offer. While the programs are there to engage students, librarians stressed the importance of parental or guardian involvement. Learning is a group sport, and the STEM/ STEAM programs are opening the minds of students to prepare them for a lifetime of learning, they said.
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UT Dallas Aims To Teach Younger Students, Too
Programs offered include Techtalks, workshops, annual engineering day
Explore Engineering Day draws thousands of families to UT Dallas each year. (COURTESY PHOTOS)
By Liliann Albelbaisi People Newspapers
The University of Texas at Dallas, known for its programs for undergraduate and graduate college students, also aims to impact grade school students in the areas of science, technology, engineering art, and, mathematics (STEAM). The Science and Engineering Education Center (SEEC) works with community partners and
corporations to provide accessible learning opportunities meant to expand the knowledge of students in kindergarten through 12th grades. UT Dallas wants to “teach kids how everyday life relates to math and science,” explained Lolani Connolly. She has worked at the center since its founding in 2008 and served as its director since 2013. Explore Engineering Day – one of the center’s most popular events
– introduces children to how engineering helps everyday life and connects them with engineers so students can learn more about what engineers do for the community. Registration is free. The day’s activities line up with courses taught at the university and are interweaved in current events, Connolly said. She described it as a powerful family event that caters to children’s passions and curiosity and helps
parents figure out how to help their children succeed. The center also works with student volunteers to successful Dallas professionals to offer workshops and Techtalks. Techtalks, offered for older students, feature professionals and professors who speak about the big problems and challenges the engineering world is facing at the moment. “It’s important to educate the public about what we are doing in North Texas,” Connolly said. “Why not have those conversations with those kids early on?” The center provides learning opportunities to more than 150,000 students a year. Of those, “85% feel better informed about the roles engineers play,” she said. “What we are finding
is that this is a critical part of the recipe: to experience math and science in the everyday.”
E XPLORE ENGINEERING DAY WHAT: A free family event featuring opportunities to meet engineers and learn about what they do WHEN: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Feb. 15 WHERE: University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road REGISTRATION: utdallas. edu/evites/exploreengineering-day/registration. html