Lt. Gov. Cox, Local Leaders and ‘Science Evangelist’ Talk Social Impacts of K-12 STEM Education at Utah STEM Action Center’s 4th Annual Best Practices Conference

SALT LAKE CITY (June 20, 2018)—Close to 800 educators, leaders, and industry representatives convened today to hear ‘Science Evangelist’ Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox and a panel of community leaders speak on the impact STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education has on society and economic growth—and the importance of adding excitement to the STEM learning equation—as part of the 4th annual STEM Best Practices Conference hosted by the Utah STEM Action Center.

“There are thousands of high-paying local tech jobs going unfilled due to a shortage of STEM talent,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said. “One of the greatest problems we have in our country is developing an education system aligned with industry needs.”

The daylong conference offered 52 distinct breakout seminars—led by teachers, scientists, and nonprofit organizations—that included hands-on learning sessions, discussion groups, and dynamic lesson demonstrations, all centered on K-12 education.

“Ultimately, when it comes to the way we teach science, we have to make a change, because the world has changed,” said Dr. Ainissa Ramirez. “We are in a very technologically rich society and we want to make sure that all of our children are participants—we want them to be pilots and not passengers through the 21st Century.”

In addition to various presentations highlighting effective STEM education practices in Utah communities, KUTV morning anchor Holly Menino announced nine new Utah STEM School designees, and state Senator Ralph Okerlund received the Comcast STEM Dynamo Award in recognition of his efforts to expand STEM education among some of the most rural parts of the state.

“If we can’t prepare our students for the real-life applied learning that drives innovation, we’re doing ourselves a great disservice,” said STEM Action Center executive director, Tamara Goetz, Ph.D. “Providing educators with a forum for thought-sharing around what’s working in classrooms, and the information and tools they need to support STEM growth and engagement, is critical to developing the skills required to keep up with the pace of progress.”

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About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s commitment to statewide economic development. The state’s economic vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business environment and tourist destination. GOED provides extensive resources and support for business creation, growth and recruitment statewide, as well as programs to increase tourism and film production for the benefit of Utah residents. All administered programs are based upon strategic industry clusters to develop a diverse, sustainable economy. GOED accomplishes its mission through unprecedented partnerships. For more information, please contact: Aimee Edwards, (801) 538-8811 or edwards.

About the STEM Action Center

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Action Center works to develop Utah’s future workforce by prioritizing STEM education. The program drives research and implementation of STEM education best practices statewide by coordinating STEM-related activities, creating and coordinating proven STEM education best practices, facilitating educator access to those tools, and engaging public awareness of the impact of STEM education on society and sustainable industry growth across all sectors. For more information, please contact: Katherine Kireiev, (801)538-8747 or kkireiev.

About Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D.

Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D., thrives on highlighting the fun in the everyday functionality of science. Co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game (Random House) and author of Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists (TED Books), Dr. Ainissa Ramirez received her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University and was an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Yale University. Named one of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators for her contributions to transforming technology by MIT’s Technology Review, Dr. Ramirez has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, NPR, ESPN, and Time Magazine.

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