Recognizing the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education, and showing support for students, educators and organizations in the field, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper this week proclaimed April as North Carolina STEM Education Month.
This step from Cooper may not come as a surprise, as he’s already taken a number of steps to nudge his state in the direction of focusing more on STEM fields. In 2018, he joined the Governors for K-12 Computer Science partnership to support development of compsci curriculum and professional development for teachers in K-12 schools. In 2020, the state’s Board of Education changed its standards to include core structure for compsci classes in K-12, according to a news release.
The governor has also taken measures to direct students in the state to pursue careers in cybersecurity by urging kids in high school to enter into the annual National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and SANS Institute’s competition, CyberStart America. Additionally, under Cooper’s leadership, the state’s Department of Administration in 2019 launched the Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program to help high school girls who are considering a career in STEM, the release said.
The North Carolina Business Committee for Education, a business-led nonprofit that operates out of the governor’s office, has provided a number of opportunities for students and teachers. In 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCBCE held a conference, STEM Connect, during which STEM and career technical education teachers received professional development to guide them through remote and hybrid learning. The NCBCE also launched a student technology support program, Tech Team, through the NC Student Connect program, that led to students receiving certifications and participating in IT support internships, the release said. Through NCBCE, the state also has its Ready, Set, App! competition that asks high schoolers to create an app that solves an issue in their school or community, now in its third year.
The NCBCE also has partnered with the governor’s office and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to launch LiNC-IT (Linking North Carolina with Innovative Talent), according to the release. The program is a collaboration effort with the UNC TEACCH Autism Center and The Autism Society of NC, among others, to set up adults on the autism spectrum with internships, many of which are in STEM fields.
“We’re focused on ensuring that our students have the tools and training they need to succeed,” Cooper said in a public statement about the proclamation. “Learning about science, technology, engineering and math expands horizons, teaches new skills and prepares students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
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