STEM | KCUR

STEM

State lawmakers return to the Missouri Capitol on Monday for a special session designed to pass two pieces of legislation vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson.

And Wednesday they’re scheduled to hold their annual veto session, which may be relatively short and quiet.

During a statewide tour on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wants work with lawmakers to fix two bills during next week’s special session.

Parson vetoed a bill to increase STEM education in high school and another to expand alternative prosecution for drug abusers, known as drug courts. Despite the vetoes, Parson is making it clear he still supports the spirit of the laws and would rather see them reshaped than overridden by lawmakers as currently written.

Segment 1: There are a lot of acronyms in education. How do those phrases affect kids?

In the education world, 'STEM learning' refers to an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math. Shortly afterwards, arts and reading were thrown into the mix changing the acronym from STEM to STEAM and now STREAM. On this episode, we dive into a conversation on how terminology and buzzwords shape modern learning.

Anne Kniggendorf

What does your grandfather’s house have in common with the Johnson County library? A workshop.

“I’m not saying this is your grandad’s basement — it’s kind of your grandad’s basement on steroids,” Johnson County Library Director Sean Casserley said during a recent event to rededicate the Black & Veatch MakerSpace. The Overland Park-based engineering firm renewed a $90,000, three-year grant to the library system in July.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bipartisan bill last week because the detailed standards for an online STEM curriculum program seemed “narrowly tailored to apply to only one company.” And that company helped create that criteria, according to one of the bill’s handlers.

Frito-Lay

After her neighbor’s house was struck by lightning, Julia Luetje, an eleven-year old from Leawood, Kansas developed a fear of thunderstorms.

“I’m afraid of storms,” said Luetje. “I don’t like hearing them or seeing the lightning.”

Flashing lights, loud booms and a downpour of rain — it’s a pretty reasonable thing for a kid to be scared about. But when the elementary school Luejte attended held an inventor’s fair, she decided to face her fears.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is getting a high-tech $32 million facility to help students compete in a global economy.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved construction of the computer science building, which will be adjacent to Flarsheim Hall, earlier this month. It will be built with a combination of state funds and private donations, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

“Let’s go divas, let’s go!” the girls chant, before dissolving into giggles.

On the last day of a Kansas City Public Schools-sponsored summer camp, students cheer on their friends in an engineering challenge.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution suggests that the vast majority of our country's high-tech jobs are clustered in just a handful of cities. Local tech experts argue Kansas City, Missouri is on its way to the center of that cluster. 

Is Kansas City a tech hub? What factors are influencing the "rise of the rest" in our region?

Guests:

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the next few years, many tech businesses in Kansas City expect to do a lot of hiring, with starting salaries that most recent college graduates can only dream of.

But will these jobs go to native Kansas Citians or to people recruited from other places?

A few weeks ago, the White House held a STEM education workshop for 27 cities across the United States, and five representatives from Kansas City were invited to attend. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske finds out what they learned and how it could change local approaches to STEM.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has pledged $10,000 from his office’s budget to the Women's Business Center WE-Lend Microloan program.

“We can always do more to remove barriers from people who don’t need barriers in front of them,” James told about 200 women attending a WE 2.0 women’s empowerment conference Friday.

The loans provide funding, technical assistance and a financial coach to women-led businesses.

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

State education officials in Missouri hope a newly designed statistical model will identify down to to the district level what content areas and geographic regions in the state are facing drastic teacher shortages. 

"The better your data, the better you can address issues and solve problems. The better you can make things happen. The more we know what our specific problems are, the more we can attack them," Katnik says. 

Courtesy Photo / KC STEM Alliance

The White House has made it a point to urge girls to get involved in math, science and engineering.

In 2013, President Obama said, "We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to.” 

Despite that, KC STEM Alliance director Laura Loyacono says that females are actually a shrinking percentage of the computer science workforce.

Cristopher Crance / Burns &McDonnell

When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut? Some area students are taking the first steps. Grade-schoolers at Resurrection Catholic School in Kansas City, Kan. and Prairie Fire Upper Elementary in Independence are creating experiments to send into near space in a big weather balloon.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

How do you get fifth and sixth graders to see a connection between what they're doing in school and their future careers?

Talk to them about Walt Disney.

"As a sixth grader, he was sketching mice and ducks in his art class," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told students during an assembly at Mill Creek Upper Elementary in Belton Friday.

The school is one of 34 across Missouri that's teaching elementary school students about math and science through Project Lead the Way, which Nixon hopes will inspire them to pursue those fields as adults. 

Bradley Covington, a senior at Lee’s Summit North High School in Lee's Summit, Mo., remembers well the time he planned out Santa Claus’s Christmas Eve route. 

“We had to think of all the problems we could face: where he would travel, the direction he would travel, how he’s going to travel to all these places,” he says. “We had to actually specifically look up the time zones, to find which ones Christmas would fall in first.”

Roy Montgomery / Flickr--CC

Kansas is among the most innovative states in the nation, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The state came in 18th out of 20.

States were ranked on the number of STEM professionals in the state, science and technology degree holders, percentage of utility patents and a three-year analysis of productivity change, among other things. 

"Veteran in transition" Cailey McClurken / veteransinstem.org

They've mastered advanced battlefield operations planning. They’ve navigated years of overseas intricacies and family complexities. But now, can they master trigonometry?

The Veteran in STEM program seeks to support veterans in acquiring the education they need to pursue jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.  While the process of retooling your education to focus on math or science might seem daunting to anybody, only half of STEM jobs require a bachelors degree or higher level of education, the other half typically require associate degrees or specific trade training.  Dean Kevin Truman of the School of Computing and Engineering and Alexis Petri, Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director of the KC BANCS program guide us through the unique supports and programing they've put together to help veterans advance their education and careers.