On the ND STEM Network

Throughout North Dakota K-12 teachers are discovering the importance of instilling in their students an aptitude for learning and a skill set for problem-solving particularly in an evolving global and technologically rich economy.

Four 21st Century skills are cited:  Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking and are not specific to discipline. These skills are at the core of the STEM movement and drive our attitude that the learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is essential for all of our primary and secondary students regardless if their goal is to be a physicist, radiology technician, software engineer,  actuary, or a ceramicist, musician, community leader, or parent.

A career- and college-readied graduate of our schools will be successful personally and will contribute to the success of the companies they elect to work with, and we hope those companies are in North Dakota.

This is among the compelling reasons for businesses and industries throughout North Dakota to assemble at the same table despite competitions and proprietaries, to form a network that focuses on student learning.

Such a network should and does include a varied stakeholder group which understand education dynamics: PK-12 teachers and administrators from public and faith-based schools,  state government including the Department of Public Instruction, Commerce,  Regional Education Associations,  and institutions of higher education.  Informal education groups such as museums and the arts are also at the table.

The aim of the ND STEM Network is to connect its stakeholders regularly, to solicit their needs and how a connected education system can respond nimbly to market changes, new technologies, and the resulting new skills, to skate to where the puck will be in ten-plus years to ensure the prowess of North Dakota persists.

To provide a collaboration who establish, provide and sustain high-quality learning experiences in the STEM areas that are inclusive to all disciplines is key to mission of the Network. In doing so we hope to promote even greater advances in STEM for all students by creating regional communities in four geographic quadrants of the state coupled well with the tribal communities that take responsibility locally and which insist on educational practices that are high-impact, engaging, and relevant.

We are both proud and thankful that the legislators of the 63rd Legislative Assembly supported the formal establishment of the ND STEM Network through a one-time $300,000 appropriation for 2013-2015.  Through 2015 regional groups will be meeting to design, implement and assess a network that brings utility to the enhancement of learning consistent with the STEM movement.

In late September we hosted regional community meetings in Minot, Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismarck, drawing the interest and participation of over 80 individuals who are steeped in the need to excite our students through high-impact learning strategies. Company after company is saying, “How can we help, where can we get involved?” and it’s not just co-sponsors that we seek.

What is paramount is that our participants share in our passions and brainstorm with us on how to make North Dakota education even that much better.  Please consider joining us to contribute what you can!


Professor of Physics, Director of Undergraduate Research, STEM Consultant, STEAM Practitioner

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