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AZ STEM Community Centers and Team Mentoring
AZ STEM Community Centers and Team Mentoring
What is Team Mentoring?

At the Arizona STEM Network we believe that education is a social contract and collective mentoring is a social responsibility. Previous generations have thrived because they not only learned, but they also taught as they broadly exchanged knowledge between individuals and the community through TEAM MENTORING. It takes a team to mentor a community and a team mentoring model to transform society.

The Arizona STEM Network seeks to meld new and old mentoring approaches, leverage technology and community, and broadly define our Team Mentoring model. We seek to improve mentor representation and impact in STEM fields by leveraging the actions and experience of those in the STEM communities who represent both academic and industry stakeholders. We do this at the individual, local, and regional level, and we accomplish this through programs that are founded in best practices and tailored to all stages within the STEM workforce pipeline.

Why Use Team Mentoring?

Years of experience and ongoing research demonstrate the very real impact mentoring has on the recruitment and retention of students. This is particularly necessary for rural and underserved communities, who are disadvantaged through reduced or non-existent services, education opportunities, and employment options. Research also shows that ethic and socio-political considerations are necessary to contextualize effective mentoring practices. Identification of populations in need of mentoring resources which are tailored to their individual and local circumstances reinforces the mentoring objectives. The AZ STEM Network works across Arizona with the express purpose of providing contextualized mentoring programs and services to empower, connect, and enrich the lives of students and teachers in STEM resulting in an engaged and knowledgeable citizen scientist.

Our mandate is to decrease barriers for students entering the STEM pipeline, with a focus on students in rural areas and urban cores. While the demographic of these two student populations are different, their needs are fundamentally the same: increased access to opportunity through role modeling and skills literacy.

The Arizona STEM Network believes that improving circumstances and conditions that otherwise limit STEM learning and literacy will lead to a stronger, healthier, wiser population. As such, we set out to develop innovative teacher-led classroom and community partnerships with business, higher education and industry. This is mentoring at a community level, and our programs aim to increase the percentage of students from those communities who are college and career ready, graduate from STEM degree programs and enter into the STEM marketplace.

Mentoring provides opportunities for everyone to engage in STEM practices from pre-K to adult.

STEM Centers Drive Impact!

Through funding from the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) and local partnerships, SFAz guides this effort and assists in providing actionable results. The three geographically located (Flagstaff, Phoenix and Southern Arizona) STEM Centers have created and implemented a STEM literacy agenda that serves all Arizona students. We are pleased to highlight each locations' efforts. The STEM Center locations are below, so please explore the individual locations for exciting events, activities, and information occurring at each site.

"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."
Steven Spielberg, Film Director
For more information regarding the Enlisting New Leadership in STEM Teaching (ENLIST) program, please see the following links:
What do Community STEM Centers look like, and more importantly, what do they DO?

Arizona Community Foundation Mentoring Program: ENLIST 2.0 "Engineering New Leadership In STEM Teaching.”

ENLIST 1.0: Science Foundation Arizona launched ENLIST 1.0 on July 1, 2012. The program established a model network of local and regional community partnerships first serving the more populous geographical regions of Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson in Northern, Central and Southern Arizona before extending the tiered STEM Mentoring Model to rural communities linked by Regional Community STEM Centers. This community-centric model was designed to satisfy the mutual interests of both industry and education: not just to serve industry or education. At the same time, the STEM Mentoring model fostered community relationships, provided points of engagement with business and industry through local entities such as Chambers of Commerce, and enabled sharing of best practices among stakeholders.

ENLIST 2.0: On July 1, 2015, Science Foundation Arizona launched ENLIST 2.0 with an additional commitment of $250K from Arizona Community Foundation for three more years. The three-fold purpose of the program featured: (1) continuing support for the original Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson Tiered STEM Mentoring communities; (2) designing and testing the community-centric collective impact mentoring model in Sierra Vista through their STEM IN ACTION PARTNERSHIP (SIAP), with an extended network of anticipated future partnerships through neighboring STEM Centers; and (3) building pathways and providing resources needed to translate the established local models in new communities statewide, with an eye toward a national model for other regions and states to emulate.

The 3rd Annual Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration brought together members from the community, businesses, parents and students all in celebration of STEM. Flagstaff is the only recognized "STEM City” in the nation.

Northern Arizona (Flagstaff, STEM City): The 3rd Annual Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration, to be held on March 7, 2016 at the NAU Dome, will engage all 28 K-12 schools and more than 60 STEM businesses and industries, government agencies, non-profits and education groups. Two jointly funded projects in partnership with NAU promote bioscience and engineering education. "STEM Clubs” and "Teachers in Industry” programs are active. And through partnership with the Civic Service Institute, 13 VISTA volunteers are working in local schools. Social Media is being used more extensively to inform the community about the SFAz/ACF STEM Mentoring Program.

Central Arizona (Phoenix, Rio Salado College): The Central Arizona ENLIST program has made new connections that focus on STEM teacher development through a partnership with Rio Salado College (RSC) "Academic STEM Education for K-12” certificate. Central Arizona ENLIST has earmarked 15 stipends for K-12 teachers to create project-based learning classroom experiences and opportunities for these same 15 teachers, enabling them to earn scholarships towards enrollment in Academic Certificate courses. Community outreach activities have been expanded to include several new schools and districts in Chandler and Mesa with links to the Arizona SciTech Festival "Chief Science Officers Program,” and to the Arizona State University "Science IS Fun” and the "Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest (NCI-SW).” Successful new expansion and recruitment initiatives include the RSC program extending the ENLIST model to Arizona educators at the 3rd Annual Arizona STEM Club Conference; to the Walton Sustainability Teacher’s Academy, Arizona Science Teachers Association Annual Conference: Ready, Set, Explore Science; and to the 21st Century STEM: Integrate to Innovate Conference, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Rural Arizona (Sierra Vista - SV, Science In Action Partnership - SIAP): SFAz welcomed SV and SIAP as they joined existing ACF Tiered STEM Mentoring communities in Northern, Central and Southern Arizona, drawing on many collaborative STEM pathway programs in partnership experiences with the SVUSD and the Military Accommodation school district, aerospace and defense industries, and local and regional businesses. Appointed by SFAz as liason to the Sierra Vista community is Jerry Proctor, the former Deputy to the Commanding General, US ARMY Intelligence Center at Ft. Huachuca; and appointed by SIAP as manager of their program is Sandee Trevino, a National Board-certified math teacher from Buena HS and NSF Einstein Fellow Emeritus. Proctor and Trevino join Kathryn Webster (Northrop Grumman Corporation) who takes over the reigns of SIAP for the Sierra Vista community. As they build their mentoring program together, they are currently conducting business and industry orientation and training while developing their community centric mentoring model in concert with the SV Chamber of Commerce, the fiscal agent for the program. Work with schools has begun. And neighboring communities of Yuma, Nogales, and Safford have taken note.

Demonstrating Impact in Arizona!

We demonstrate our impact in the following abridged list of activities and programs, which is integrated with our impact and outcomes. A selection of mentoring programs and activities are described in more detail below. Our accomplishments are tightly aligned with our mentoring philosophy, and we are proud of the significant impact we have had across Arizona. Science Foundation Arizona and the Arizona STEM Network promotes excellence and raises the bar by with the following programs:

Teachers in Industry: This program is unique in its integration of summer paid industry internships for early career (working) STEM teachers with academic coursework leading to an advanced degree in STEM education. The focus of the program is on guiding teachers to effectively share knowledge acquired from the real world through industry internships into classrooms while building in-depth and practical knowledge of the economy gained from workplace. This highly engaging program is another whose success can be measured by its sustainability and expansion three years (and counting) beyond initial three-year seed funding and the spread of industry internships to companies across the state from Tucson and Phoenix to Flagstaff as the number of internships expands.

Graduate Research Fellows (GRF): Science Foundation Arizona Graduate Research Fellows (GRF) significantly contribute to the vitality and viability of Arizona’s base of scientists and engineers, strengthening its economic competitiveness. The program recognizes and supports graduate students of the highest quality pursuing research-based Masters and Doctoral degrees in the three R1 universities in areas of current interest, especially aerospace and defense, electronics and computer science, physical and biological sciences, biotechnology and environmental engineering, and sustainable development. Notably, the GRF program has committed GRF Fellow time engaging K-12 students and their teachers in STEM education in the communities and schools where they live and work.

Mentoring reaches all facets of learning, including teacher to teacher mentoring of current content and best practices.

Helios STEM School Pilot (HSSP) and the STEM Immersion Guide: We've created a STEM Immersion Guide tracking schools and districts from early interest in STEM to full integration of rigorous and relevant activities. SFAz designed and launched an Online STEM Network and Educational Resource guide that is an open-source online resource for compiling STEM-related educational tools. The resources of the SFAz STEM Network have been effectively leveraged in order to produce assessment data for these HSSP schools and districts. Over the last year, the STEM Immersion Guide and its tools have boasted over 2210 sessions with 1630 users. 72% of these users are new to the site with 28% returning. The site has been very popular in the two primary geographical areas of the state and we are working to expand its impact.

Change the Equation: In partnership with Washington, DC-based Change the Equation (CTEq), SFAz is helping educators, business leaders, and other funders identify and decide questions of support for exemplary and promising education programs that improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through formal and informal teaching and learning experiences. As a consequence, of the 44 programs now populating the STEMworks Database of approved programs, four (annotated below) originated in Arizona: two have been accepted as EXEMPLARY (POD, C4C), the highest category, and two more as PROMISING (WIP, CG), the next level.

STEM Clubs: The special appeal of robotics notwithstanding, STEM Clubs that share more diverse (less specialized) STEM experiences open new opportunities for STEM engagement and promise to cast a wider net, appealing to a broader range of stakeholders and students. Beginning with an eleven-club seed program just three years ago, SFAz now provides funding for many clubs, impacting thousands of students, facilitated two statewide STEM Club Conferences, and coordinated the creation of an online STEM Club guide.

STEM Pathways: These pathways are community college-led programs that include outreach to K-12 students, a technology-driven curriculum aimed at achieving credentials local employers tell us they need, and early college options for HS students who earn transferable college credits. All programs reflect current conversations with industry, offer real-world, hands-on experiences, and local hiring preferences.

Seeing is Believing!

Each year for the last five years, Battelle’s Technology Partner Practice has prepared an independent analysis of the "knowledge economy” in Arizona with a summary of SFAz progress and practice in education. It concludes that in developing the next generation of college and career ready students and STEM literate citizens at all levels its STEM initiatives are achieving significant impact and scale.

Here Are Some Highlights:

  • Over the first six years of their existence, SFAz STEM initiatives have cumulatively impacted nearly 385,000 students and 10,656 teachers at K-12 and community college levels by their direct participation.
  • During the 2012–13 academic year, SFAz education programs had 70,742 student and 2,583 teacher participants involved. The majority are direct program participants while some are impacted indirectly by having a teacher participate or vice versa.
  • Initiatives have supported a total of 297 graduate research fellowships for PhD students in STEM fields at Arizona universities. Arizona has retained 38% of the graduates working in post-doctoral positions and 50% of graduates with permanent jobs.
  • Program Quality Surveys continue to reveal positive ratings from teachers and students.

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