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Forum aims to attract students to STEM disciplines

Local education leaders will join the state’s vice chancellor of the board of regents Wednesday for a day of discussion and debate focusing on new ways to develop student interest in science-related fields.

The discussion is part of a series known as Progressive Dialogue, made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the leadership of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Organizers said the intention is to design a strategic roadmap for increasing the number of students—from all backgrounds—aspiring to and prepared for science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

The Rochester summit will be held at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester with close to 50 invited guests from higher education, local school districts, government and business.

Joel Seligman, UR president, are slated to join Regents vice chancellor Milton Cofield and Regent Wade Norwood as participants.

The first dialogue was held in June by Shirley Ann Jackson, RPI president. More than 100 leaders came together to consider the state of STEM education in New York, learn about innovations from other states and suggest strategies for advancing STEM opportunities in the state.

That event coupled with the statewide dialogues will culminate in recommendations in 2010, officials said.

“Developing a strong, interdisciplinary STEM curriculum in middle school and high school is only half the battle,” Seligman said. “Coaching teachers on the use of new technology and offering laboratory visits to younger students energizes the classroom experience. New York has some of the country’s best high schools and universities, but we need to do more.” 

(c) 2009 Rochester Business Journal. Obtain permission to reprint this article.

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