Chicago, IL | Aurora, IL
Construction has begun on an innovative learning facility designed to address regional and national deficiencies in science, technology, engineering, and math education. Next year 200 elementary and middles school students will attend the new John C. Dunham STEM (Science,ll Technology, Engineering and Math) Partnership School on the Aurora University campus. The STEM Partnership School will serve students in grades 3 to 8 from four regional public school districts; its curriculum will align with new educational standards. The four participating school districts, the university, and governmental, not-for-profit, and corporate partners--including Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, Caterpillar, Waste Management,. Nicor Gas, and Tellabs--have worked cooperatively to plan facilities.
The fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering are important economic catalysts that move both industry and the service sector forward. Even as globalization makes these high-demand fields more important, the United States faces serious knowledge deficiencies in human capital surrounding these critical subjects. On the whole, many of today's students have not been achieving in STEM subject areas at the high levels to compete for jobs in even the near future.
In response to this national challenge, Aurora University and its community partners established the Mathematics and Science Education Center of Aurora University in 2009 through an award from the Dunham Fund. Under the leadership of the Institute for Collaboration of Aurora University, the Center has created an innovative model for mathematics and science education in a diverse urban community, and this model can be replicated across the country. "A hands-on education in math and science is important for our community's young citizens," says Aurora University President Dr. Sherrick. "It arms them with the tools they need to grow, achieve and succeed in life."
The STEM Partnership School is the cornerstone of the Mathematics and Science Education Center. Designed by architects Cordogan Clark & Associates, the new STEM School extends an existing campus building and includes a multipurpose room, visitor's center, eight classrooms, and six labs. The labs focus on different areas of science including energy, biomedicine,and biomaterials. Scientists and business leaders provided expertise in developing the labs. Nicor, for instance, played a significant role in the energy lab.
Funding from a $3.5 million capital investment announced by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, augmented with $9 million in private dollars, has recently enabled The STEM Partnership School to begin construction. "We must be sure that all of today's children are prepared and ready fo rthe opportunities of tomorrow," Governor Quinn said. "STEM education is a hands-on approach to learning that makes the classroom come to life and allows minds to grow."