Few would dispute that the United States needs a workforce more deeply trained in the skills demanded for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. By 2012, U.S. universities will graduate only 50 percent of the candidates needed to fill the 1.5 million computer- and information-related jobs that will have been created.
For more than five years, EDC has supported a 37-state National Science Foundation program called ITEST—Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers—that engages students in grades 6 through 12 in STEM activities.
“The ITEST program is very significant at this point in time for the United States,” says EDC’s Joyce Malyn-Smith, reflecting on ITEST’s first five years of work. “We’ve built a community of practice among researchers, educators, community partners, and other stakeholders across the country. We’re developing a pipeline of talent that is a tremendous resource.”
The ITEST Learning Resource Center at EDC provides research, resources, community building, and other support to help organizations share best practices and lessons learned. More than 120 programs—held in informal settings such as Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H Clubs, and afterschool centers, as well as in schools—engage students in hands-on activities that nurture STEM skills.
“We’re focusing on young people who wouldn’t otherwise have these kinds of programs in their neighborhoods or schools,” says Siobhan Bredin, also of EDC. “ITEST finds ways to engage students who may have thought careers in technology or engineering were unattainable or uninteresting.”
A report on the key themes and lessons learned during ITEST’s first five years is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published on April 17, 2009