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STEM education leaders — including four from WNY — convene in D.C., meet White House officials

Members of WNY’s ISEP program discussed strategies for building equitable, real-world STEM learning opportunities for students

Release Date: November 12, 2015

“What ISEP has done here in Buffalo is considered nationally significant.”
Joseph A. Gardella Jr., John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week, four Western New Yorkers were among leaders from 27 local and regional networks for STEM learning nationwide who convened in Washington, D.C. to exchange strategies for building students’ STEM knowledge and expertise.

The focus was on enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through multi sector “ecosystems” that bring together schools, out of school programs, businesses, institutions of higher education and STEM-rich institutions such as museums. Participants also met with White House officials to discuss equitable STEM education and federal STEM policy.

The 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems that gathered in Washington, D.C. represent the inaugural group of ecosystems selected by the STEM Funders Network to receive support as part of a larger commitment that will grow to support 100 ecosystems in its first three years. Each of the 27 networks is receiving hands-on technical assistance individualized to the needs of each community from the STEM Funders Network.  

The four Western New Yorkers who attended the Nov. 11-12 meeting represent the region’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), which seeks to improve STEM education in the Buffalo Public Schools.

The program — led by the University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, the Buffalo Museum of Science and the Buffalo Public Schools — promotes hands-on learning in science classes. It provides teachers with helpful resources that range from classroom equipment and professional development to in-class help from corporate scientists and college students majoring in STEM fields.

In addition to the four leading institutions, ISEP partners include Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute; Praxair; Thermo/Life Technologies; Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Committee; WNY Service Learning Coalition; Niagara University; Daemen, Canisius and Medaille colleges; and Cradle Beach summer camp.

The Western New Yorkers who traveled to D.C.:

  • Karen L. King, ISEP project manager, University at Buffalo;
  • Dan MacIsaac, associate professor of physics, SUNY Buffalo State;
  • Larry Megan, director of R&D, Praxair; and
  • Karen Wallace, acting president and CEO, Buffalo Museum of Science.

“What ISEP has done here in Buffalo is considered nationally significant,” said ISEP project lead Joseph A. Gardella Jr., SUNY Distinguished Professor and John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry at UB, who did not travel to D.C. but has been in close touch with the ISEP representatives who did. “By meeting others engaged in building STEM ecosystems across the country, we hope to share what we’ve learned from our experiences and also learn about best practices elsewhere.”

“The president has called for all of us to think of creative and effective ways of getting all of our students engaged in STEM education,” said John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It’s heartening to see so many communities working locally and together in response to the president’s call to action.”

“We look forward to continuing our work with communities nationwide,” said Gerald Solomon, executive director of the Samueli Foundation, who co-chairs the STEM Funders Network with Ron Ottinger, executive director of the Noyce Foundation. “We know that these grassroots, local partnerships can provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ for all learners as they build the skills and knowledge to thrive in a global workforce.”

The first 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems selected by the STEM Funders Network include:                                              

  • Arizona SciTech Ecosystem (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Bay Area STEM Ecosystem (San Jose, California)
  • BoSTEM (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Colorado STEM (Denver, Colorado)
  • East Syracuse Minoa Central School District STEM Learning Ecosystem (East Syracuse, New York)
  • ecosySTEM KC (Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, Kansas)
  • EvanSTEM (Evanston, Illinois)
  • Great Lakes Bay Regional STEM Initiative (Freeland, Michigan)
  • Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem (Austin, Texas)
  • Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Indiana STEM Ecosystem Initiative (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership in Western New York (Buffalo, New York)
  • Los Angeles Regional STEM Hub (Los Angeles, California)
  • NC STEM Ecosystem: Driving the Future (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina)
  • Northeast Ohio STEM Learning Ecosystem (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • NYC STEM Education Network (New York, New York)
  • Orange County STEM Initiative (Corona Del Mar, California)
  • Oregon’s Statewide Regional STEM Hub Network (Salem, Oregon)
  • Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
  • Providence After School Alliance (PASA) AfterZone STEM – FUSE Initiative (Providence, Rhode Island)
  • Queens 2020 (Corona, New York)
  • San Diego EcosySTEM (San Diego, California)
  • STEMcityPHL Regional Network (Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Tampa Bay STEM Network (Tampa, Florida)
  • Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  • Ventura County STEM Regional Network Learning Ecosystem (Camarillo, California)

TIES, The Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, leads the technical assistance for the STEM ecosystems initiative and is the lead consultant for the STEM Funders Network (SFN), a diverse mix of education-focused philanthropies from across the nation advancing STEM education by leveraging the collective voice, resources, and strategies of its members.

About the Samueli Foundation

The Samueli Foundation strives to create societal value by investing innovative, entrepreneurial and sustainable ideas. The Foundation supports endeavors that embody the following objectives: promote scholastic, technical and creative exploration and achievement; build a community of sharing, acceptance and altruism; increase awareness, knowledge and opportunities; and enhance the quality of life of the underserved.

About the Noyce Foundation

The Noyce Foundation aims to help young people become curious, thoughtful, and engaged learners. The Foundation focuses on a few key areas: expanding opportunities for students to experience hands-on science in out-of-school settings; supporting human capital efforts to develop effective teachers and principal leaders; and investing in models and policy for improving the teaching of math and science. The Noyce Foundation was created by the Noyce family in 1990 to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Robert N. Noyce, co-founder of Intel and inventor of the integrated circuit which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name.

About TIES

TIES, The Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, is the country's foremost innovator in STEM School design, STEM curriculum, and STEM instructional support to schools. Jan Morrison is the president and CEO of TIES and lead consultant for the STEM Funders Network, a collaboration of more than nineteen STEM funders seeking to fund STEM for the USA with greater return on their investment and therefore for the nation's students. She also served as designer of MCSTEM High School in Cleveland, a national model for STEM education. 

Media Contact Information

Michael Andrei
Public Affairs and Internal Communications Specialist
Tel: 716-645-9068
mandrei@buffalo.edu