Connecting STEM Leaders Throughout the USA

The following article, “MMSA Addresses STEM Education Broadly and Deeply,” by Dr. Jan Mokros and Dr. Tom Keller, appears in the current National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions (NASSMC) News bulletin.

The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance Addresses STEM Education Broadly and Deeply

Message from Dr. Jan Mokros and Dr. Tom Keller

This September, the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) is celebrating our 12th year in providing leadership, capacity, capacity-building and innovation to educators in Maine and across the nation. MMSA was established in 1992 as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization to oversee the state’s grant from the National Science Foundation’s Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) program.

Since that time, MMSA developed strengths in professional development in science and mathematics for in-state, regional and national projects. State MSP funds (Title IIB) have been the lifeblood of the organization. In addition, MMSA has maintained connection to national leadership through staff involvement (particularly at the director and president levels) with groups such as NSELA, NSTA, NARST, and NASSMC.

On the state level, MMSA’s relationships with the Maine Department of Education and Maine’s institutions of higher education has provided many win-win situations, such as the creation and nurturing of listservs for Maine science and math teachers and on-going discussions with content and education faculty. MMSA is now undertaking an innovative approach in out-of-school STEM learning opportunities for youth ages 10 to 18, through our new Reach Center project.

MMSA was one of the founders of the multi-representational Maine STEM Collaborative in 2008 and has served continuously on the Collaborative’s Executive Committee since that time. This group brings together on a regular basis members from K-12 education, higher education at 2 yr and 4 yr institutions, and business and industry to better coordinate STEM resources. MMSA’s Executive Director, Jan Mokros, chaired the group during the time it sponsored its second STEM Summit, and Tom Keller, co-Director of MMSA’s Reach Center, was recently elected as chair. The Collaborative has completed three statewide Summits, has developed a strategic plan, and has commissioned several background papers about the state of STEM in Maine.

In 2011, at the urging of the STEM Collaborative, Maine’s legislature unanimously passed a bill to establish a state-wide Governor’s STEM Council. It is meeting over the course of two years to study Maine’s current STEM landscape and make policy recommendations. The 16-member Council includes representatives from the state’s Department of Education, community college system, university system, business and industry, STEM-based teacher organizations and nonprofits.  MMSA serves on this Council.

MMSA has found that developing and following an action plan yet being innovative and taking risks has kept the organization vibrant for twenty years and made STEM efforts in Maine more cohesive.

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