Curriculum Opinion

Chevron’s Investment in STEM Education

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — March 10, 2015 4 min read
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The private sector and education have the ability to leverage a unique set of resources, talent, involvement, and know-how from each partner that can maximize collective efforts. In this two part series on school-business partnerships, we asked the same set of questions of Dr. David Evans, National Science Teachers Association Executive Director and Blair Blackwell, Manager of Education and Corporate Programs at Chevron Corporation. Today’s answers come from Blair Blackwell, sharing the perspecitve from the business side.

Q: Why is it valuable to establish partnerships like this (Chevron/NSTA), between the private sector and education?

A: At Chevron, we’ve learned through decades of experience that few factors are more important to the success of our business--and to a country’s ability to compete in the global marketplace--than a robust supply of workers educated and trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Partnerships between the private sector and education, like our partnership with NSTA, allow us to make the most lasting impact by leveraging both our expertise and resources. The private sector is able to provide industry experience and capital, while the education organization provides a direct tie to educators and the ability to shape and implement high-quality curriculum and instruction.

We work with our education partners to identify the needs most important and urgent in the communities of our support, and then invest in solutions and programs that will create prosperity now and for generations to come.

The NSTA’s ability to reach science educators across the country is unmatched, so we’re excited to partner to provide administrators and teachers the tools needed to prepare students to become the innovators of tomorrow. Through our $500,000 commitment to NSTA, we look forward to supporting the implementation of high-quality, research-based instruction to prepare and inspire the next generation of leaders.

Q: What tips can you offer to schools that are interested in partnerships with the private sector?

A: Identify the needs that are most important and find a private sector partner that understands the local workforce needs and has a vested interest in the success of the local community. The most successful partnerships are between organizations with similar goals. This allows both partners to contribute their expertise and resources to create measurable and enduring value. An ideal partner will provide the resources to begin a program and see it through to successful and sustainable implementation. Just as with our support to NSTA, the support of private sector partners can and must go far beyond just writing a check.

Q: Why are programs like the Chevron-supported NSTA Administrators Initiative important?

A: The Chevron-supported NSTA Administrators Initiative will create a scalable model to help improve K-12 STEM instruction by educating principals and science supervisors about effective STEM instructional practices. Our partnership with NSTA will ensure teachers and administrators are provided the research, professional learning networks, resources and tools to support their long-term professional growth.

These types of initiatives are important because teachers and administrators are pivotal in preparing students to become tomorrow’s innovators. Our partnership with NSTA aims to make a meaningful impact on the nation’s 2 million science teachers. Helping administrators understand research-based changes to how STEM is taught will ensure high-quality instruction in STEM subjects and build a well-educated and career-ready generation of students.

Q: What do you hope the future impact of this program will be?

A: Our partnership with the NSTA aims to reach the nation’s two million teachers of science and ensure they are equipped to design and deploy STEM curriculum that resonates with students. Our scalable program will support school administrators in understanding effective personal learning so they can strengthen teaching and learning in STEM subjects, through face-to-face professional development opportunities, extensive professional learning networks, smaller communities of practice and other resources that will build knowledge and understanding of science and engineering practices.

Our partnership with NSTA will improve college and career readiness for all students by boosting the quality and effectiveness of STEM teaching and learning. It will include hands-on learning experiences and showcase the skills used by scientists and engineers, such as asking questions, defining problems and engaging in argument from evidence. These tactics aim to increase students’ inherent curiosity, maximize their engagement and build their confidence to pursue scientific areas of study, with the goal of creating students who become the leaders of tomorrow.

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