Bringing more science-based education to Virginia's students has been a priority of Governor Bob McDonnell and so, on Monday, he was in Lynchburg to open XLR8, the 16th STEM Academy, at Central Virginia Community College. It's a move that will provide students with access to lab equipment and classroom space, and open a world of possibilities.
The goal of STEM -- an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math -- is to help close the gap between education and industry, and further the economic vitality of the region. The overall program motivates students with hands-on learning to solve real problems with real solutions in a real-world situation.
InTech reported in 2010 that STEM was a necessary part of future education because "most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science—10-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation." They also noted, "The 2010 ACT College and Career Readiness report found only 29% of the tested 2010 graduates are considered college-ready in science and 43% are considered college-ready in math."
The STEM Academy curriculum works toward leveling the playing field for American students, offering them an opportunity to learn in an innovative, engaging classroom where they will develop critical thinking skills through hands-on, project-based learning. STEM Academy students will receive dual enrollment credits for all courses, allowing them the option to work toward a college degree.
Additionally, the STEM Academy will offer transfer possibilities through articulation agreements with local colleges and universities for students wishing to continue their education. STEM Academy students will also be able to earn industry certifications, allowing for job readiness upon program completion.
The Governor, who is fulfilling a campaign promise to Virginia students, noted, "We set a goal of making sure that every student, regardless of their zip code, would have access to a high quality education," and continued:
“Making sure Virginia’s students have access to the best education possible is the single most important thing we can do to ensure their success in the future. In today’s highly technical global economy, careers in science, technology, engineering and math are on the rise.Providing more science, technology, engineering, and math to students is a partnership of private business and government. In Lynchburg, the new STEM school has been a joint effort of Region 2000 Technology Council, Future Focus Foundation and Workforce Investment Board; Central Virginia Community College; the school divisions of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell and Lynchburg; and area business partners including AMTI, AREVA, The Babcock and Wilcox Company, Centra, Delta Star, and Wells Fargo. XLR8 compliments current regional K-12 STEM activities and workforce development initiatives.
"In order for our students to be successful and fill rapidly expanding technical jobs, we must ensure mastery of the STEM subjects. Over the last three years, we have seen a doubling of STEM academies in the Commonwealth.
"Today, I am pleased to join XLR8, Central Virginia Community College and AREVA to cut the ribbon and officially open the Commonwealth’s 16th STEM academy. STEM academies are partnerships created between K-12 schools and our colleges which provide our students with new opportunities through the use of state of the art labs, access to instructors at the college level, and the ability to earn dual course credit.”
Cross-posted at Virginia Politics On Demand