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                                    STEM:	A	Foundation	for	the	Future
                                    Improving	...
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                                    As	Bill	Gates	noted	in	2008	testimony	befor...
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                                    K–12	Programs
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                                    The Microsoft Math Partnership             ...
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      2008 Imagine Cup
        software design

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Microsoft and S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math)


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STEM: A Foundation for the Future
Improving student skills in science, technology, engineering and math is the foundation of America’s economic future.

From Microsoft, US Public Sector, Education
Carrie Hipsher

Published in: Education, Technology
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Microsoft and S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math)

  1. 1. m STEM: A Foundation for the Future Improving student skills in science, technology, engineering and math is the foundation of America’s economic future At Microsoft, our focus has always been on enabling people around the world to realize their full potential. For some time, an important part of that commitment has involved helping individu- als develop the skills necessary to succeed in a world—and a workplace—that is more complex, technologically advanced and competitive than ever before. These skills are predominantly concentrated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Gone are the days when a basic understanding of math or science was suf- ficient for most high-school or college graduates. Today’s students will need a strong foundation in these subjects regardless of their post-high-school plans. In the global marketplace, American businesses are increasingly dependent on innovation and increasing productivity to remain competitive. As a result, the vast majority of family-wage jobs in the 21st century will require employees with a range of technical skills and a capacity for lifelong learning. Consider the many challenges confronting society: global warming, AIDS and other diseases, hunger and poverty. Science, technology, engineering and math are central to addressing all of these issues—through development of new energy sources, medical breakthroughs, more effec- tive agricultural practices and the creation of new economies. The U.S. Department of Labor has projected that by 2014, there will be more than 2 million job openings in STEM fields in the United States. Yet, across the U.S., student performance on international math and science benchmarks lags behind that of their peers from other nations. Multiple studies have found that many students begin to lose interest in these subjects as early as middle school. And colleges are finding too few students with the interest and preparation to pursue STEM degrees. K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  2. 2. 2 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE As Bill Gates noted in 2008 testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology: “Too many of our students fail to graduate from high school with the basic skills they will need to succeed in the 21st Century economy, much less prepared for the rigors of college and career. Although our top universities continue to rank among the best in the world, too few American students are pursuing degrees in science and technology.” For the U.S. to continue to be a leader in innovation, and competitive globally, we must work especially hard to persuade young women and minority students—who are under-represented in the STEM fields today—that their contributions are needed and that exciting and rewarding career opportunities exist. Expanding the talent pool to include more women and minorities is not simply a matter of ensuring that all members of society have access to economic opportunities. It is a business imperative if the U.S. economy is to maintain its leadership. Addressing the STEM challenge is a responsibility shared by both the public and the private sector. As the world’s largest software company, we are keenly aware of the importance of expanding the talent pool. It’s important to our business, our partners and our customers, and to the com- munities in which our 91,000 employees work and live. That’s why Microsoft has invested significantly in tools and resources that enable effective teach- ing of STEM subjects, and in programs that encourage young people to become proficient and consider careers in STEM fields. On an annual basis, our commitment of cash, software and em- ployee volunteer time totals hundreds of millions of dollars. As with any prudent investment strategy, we have diversified our efforts. Some of the programs we support, like Imagine Cup, help students and the public understand the transformational role these technologies play in our daily lives. Others, such as DigiGirlz, dispel stereotypes typi- cally associated with careers in technology. Partners in Learning, the Microsoft Math Partnership and Games4Learning provide educators and students with innovative new approaches to STEM learning. From our earliest days, Microsoft has been committed to changing the way people work, learn and live. We are proud to say that our interest in STEM education is an extension of that com- mitment. We hope you will take a few minutes to learn more about our business and citizenship programs that support STEM. K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  3. 3. 3 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE K–12 Programs Education is the foundation of our communities, and key to America’s ability to remain competitive in the global economy. Microsoft is working to strengthen K–12 education worldwide through a range of programs that support students, teachers and school leaders. Partners in Learning Club Tech at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Partners in Learning is a 10-year, $500 million commitment to help local schools increase For more than a decade, Microsoft has part- their access to technology and improve its use nered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in learning. Since 2003, Partners in Learning to teach essential digital literacy skills to chil- has touched the lives of more than 90 million dren across the country and on U.S. military students, teachers and education policymak- bases abroad. Club Tech uses fun, interactive ers in 101 countries. Through the Innovative lessons to give youth of all ages and back- Schools program, we are partnering with grounds the skills they need to showcase their 12 schools in different parts of the world to creativity, perform better in school and even- move beyond the limits of the classroom and tually take their technology know-how into traditional education models toward new ap- the workplace. To date, Microsoft’s $150 mil- proaches that make learning more engaging, lion pledge has reached 4.5 million children in inspiring and relevant. The resulting educa- 4,300 locations. Microsoft also provides local tional tools and methods are available for Clubs with technology and support services other school districts to adapt and use. Our to help run their operations, and many of our Innovative Teachers program is dedicated to employees volunteer at Clubs. helping educators develop and share success- ful teaching methods, lesson plans, practices and professional development resources. As part of our Innovative Students program, we work with governments and schools to help deliver technology products and supporting curricula directly into the hands of students to enrich their learning. K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  4. 4. 4 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE The Microsoft Math Partnership system. Microsoft, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Boeing Company, Battelle, The Microsoft Math Partnership (MMP) works the Washington Roundtable and the Partner- to raise middle-school students’ participa- ship for Learning are providing the critical tion and achievement in math, science and initial support for these efforts. The goal is to technology studies. Through partnerships improve teacher effectiveness and significant- with local school districts, universities and ly increase the number of high-school gradu- other educational organizations in the Puget ates who are prepared to succeed in STEM Sound area of Washington state, MMP pro- degree programs in college, with a particular vides professional development opportuni- emphasis on accelerating the achievement of ties for teachers that will increase the rigor low-income and minority students. of secondary and post-secondary math and science education. MMP also advocates for policy changes, with the ultimate objective digiGirlz of encouraging students to become critical Started in 2000, the Microsoft® DigiGirlz thinkers who are proficient in mathemati- program is designed to dispel the stereotypes cal skills and concepts, including numeracy, typically associated with careers in technol- algebra, statistics and problem solving. Over ogy. DigiGirlz Days and DigiGirlz High-Tech time, the plan is to expand MMP programs to Camps give high-school girls a chance to other states and to work with school districts learn about careers in technology, connect to improve science education. with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology work- Washington STEM initiative shops hosted on many of Microsoft’s cam- puses around the world. Participants receive The Washington STEM Initiative seeks to im- career planning assistance, explore technolo- prove student achievement and opportunity gy and business roles, engage in thought-pro- in science, technology, engineering and math- voking exercises and view in-depth Microsoft ematics. Launching in spring 2010, the initia- product demonstrations. tive will provide technical assistance, teacher training, access to STEM curricula and other resources and leadership to help spur innova- tion in Washington State’s K–12 education K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  5. 5. 5 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE 2008 Imagine Cup software design winners Higher-Education Programs Microsoft-sponsored competitions and technology-access programs are designed to help young people develop collaboration and problem-solving skills that will be useful in any work environ- ment while inspiring them to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. imagine Cup level and internship positions. Microsoft S2B provides unique training and certification Encouraging young people to apply their opportunities as well as other resources that imagination and their passion to create fuel innovation and help students gain the technology innovations to solve real-world skills required to become more employable. problems is the goal behind Imagine Cup. Since 2006, the program has provided more In 2009, more than 300,000 students from than 300,000 students with new career skills 142 countries participated. The competition and has led to internships and jobs for 15,000 helps students strengthen technical, problem- students. solving and communication skills that can aid them in a future career. In the eight years since Microsoft created Imagine Cup, students dreamSpark have created technology solutions to improve To support advanced technical learning and software accessibility for the visually impaired, unlock students’ creative potential, the Micro- increase food production and improve access soft DreamSpark™ program enables univer- to healthcare in remote areas. Using the UN’s sity and high-school students to download ambitious Millennium Development Goals professional Microsoft developer, designer as a guiding framework, the theme for 2010 and gaming software at no cost. Since 2007, is “Imagine a world where technology helps DreamSpark has provided more than 2.3 mil- solve the toughest problems.” lion downloads of Microsoft software tools. The program also offers online instructional Students to Business resources, training videos, special offers on Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist The Microsoft Students to Business (S2B) exams and access to Microsoft IT Academy program helps university students who are learning opportunities. pursuing technology careers to connect with Microsoft partners and customers for entry- K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  6. 6. 6 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE MSdn Academic Alliance To help improve teaching and learning at accredited universities, technical schools and high schools, the MSDN® Academic Alliance provides access to professional-level software development and design tools. Students enrolled at a school with an MSDN Academic Alliance subscription also can obtain free Microsoft software with a license that never expires. The program is designed to give students a head start toward an IT career by helping familiarize them with the tools and practices that employers will expect them to use. In its eight-year history, the MSDN Academic Alliance has distributed more than 4.4 million downloads of software and other resources to subscribers. Microsoft iT Academy The Microsoft IT Academy program provides comprehensive IT training curricula and resources, as well as Microsoft certification opportunities, to help prepare students for today’s workplace, encourage lifelong learn- ing and enhance employability. The program gives educators the tools they need to deliver technology courses that align with industry hiring needs and to offer dynamic learning ex- periences to a diverse community of students. The program is available in thousands of loca- tions in more than 100 countries. Tools for Engaging Students in STEM In education, there’s nothing more valu- able than hands-on experience. Microsoft is working with education and research partners around the U.S. to develop tools that make STEM education more engaging and relevant for students of all ages. robotics Educators have found that one way to stimu- late student interest in STEM-related subjects is through the use of hands-on tools such as robots. Over the past five years, Microsoft External Research has sponsored more than a dozen robotics projects with universities around the country. In many of those projects, educators and students utilized Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (RDS), a general- K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion
  7. 7. 7 STEM: A FoundATion For ThE FuTurE purpose software toolkit that can be used to ing games that will be more useful as educa- develop everything from educational toys to tional tools. industrial robots. An academic edition of RDS is available to students through the Dream- Teaching Tools and Curricula Spark program. Microsoft is helping to develop tools and cur- Microsoft External Research co-founded the ricula that are opening vast new opportunities Institute for Personal Robots in Education for teaching and learning science. One great (IPRE), in collaboration with researchers at the example is Microsoft Research’s Worldwide Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Telescope, which compiles enormous amounts and Bryn Mawr College. IPRE uses personal of image data from land- and space-based robots to make computer science more rel- observatories. Through a Web-based browser, evant, fun and interesting for students. While users can pan across the night sky or zoom the project’s initial focus is on undergraduate in on galaxies, stars and planets. Since its students, IPRE’s ultimate mission is to employ launch in 2008, the Worldwide Telescope has robots in education at all levels—from middle been downloaded more than 2 million times school to graduate school. To ensure broad in research facilities, classrooms and homes access to the program, IPRE’s prototype robot around the world. A new Web site called “Be is easy to use and affordable—about the same a Martian” is another exciting exploratory price as a typical textbook. tool. A joint effort of NASA and Microsoft, it Microsoft has also sponsored robotics compe- gives students of all ages a chance to view titions hosted by FIRST, for K–12 students, and hundreds of thousands of images of the RoboCup, an international robotics competi- Red Planet. One of the primary objectives is tion for university students. to spur interest in science and technology among students. Games for Learning STEM educational resources are also associat- ed with a project called Life Under Your Feet. The External Research Division at Microsoft With financial and technology support from Research has teamed up with research- Microsoft, researchers at Johns Hopkins Uni- ers from seven U.S. universities to form the versity are pioneering the use of large arrays Games for Learning Institute, based at New of wireless sensor grids in soil science. The York University. Researchers are exploring sensor grids, combined with powerful data new ways to use computer gaming to more management tools, are enabling students to effectively teach science, math, literacy and learn about underground ecosystems by using other academic skills. The study results will be the same data that professional scientists use. shared with educators, software developers and other researchers interested in develop- Conclusion Social trends and global competition have created both challenges and opportunities for America’s businesses and for our workforce. U.S. students are falling behind in math and science, while other countries are graduating more engineers and scientists than ever before. The good news is that the U.S. is still a leader in scientific and technological innovation, and jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields will continue to be available for those who are qualified. Improving math and science education and inspiring young people to study and pursue careers in STEM fields will require vision and commitment. In comments recognizing President Obama’s leadership in making STEM a national priority, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “Public and private partnerships to promote STEM are critically important. We all have a vested interest in advancing our country’s proficiency in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math as a means to driving innovation and jobs—which are key to fueling our economic growth and global competitiveness.” K-12 Programs Higher Education Programs Tools for Engaging Students Conclusion