In many schools, as well as a great deal of literature, initiative related to the study of science, mathematics, and technology are called STEM, an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. However, many are now beginning to create individual programs that are more closely aligned to the needs of their students and community. Some districts include the letter R to represent a strand in research, while others change the M from mathematics to medicine. It is along this path that Seneca Valley has chosen to progress:
S – Science
T – Technology
E – Engineering
M – Math (Medicine)
Study in the fields associated with STEM has been called the “foundation for creating new knowledge, evolving society and developing a workforce capable of realizing dreams and conquering challenges. STEM fields reinvigorate employment and economies, as well as provide hope that problems are solvable” (ASSET, 2012). In 2011, the National Research Council of the National Academies completed a project that identified highly successful K-12 STEM-related programs. This report stated, in part, that, “Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology are cultural achievements that reflect people’s humanity, power the economy, and constitute fundamental aspects of our lives as citizens, workers, consumers, and parents” (National Research Council. 2011).
Given the vital impact of STEM-related programs on the national economy and the potential for providing future success for our students, the Seneca Valley School District has identified the expansion of STEM-related opportunities for our students as a significant priority. To that end, in November of 2011, the Seneca Valley School District hosted a summit of educators, local STEM-related corporations, and educational entities to begin taking a deeper look at STEM. The summit discussion was led by Dr. Kenneth Borland, Executive Director of the North West Pennsylvania STEM Initiative. During the summit Dr. Borland provided an overview of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and helped to lay the groundwork for the Seneca Valley STEM initiative.