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The Science And Technology Education Partnership (Step): Growth, Challenges And Opportunities In Stem Outreach

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Pedagogical Innovations in Laboratory Education

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1254.1 - 15.1254.16



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Sugg United States Navy

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Elizabeth Gentry National Institute of Standards and Technology

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John Fishell STEP Conference

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP): Growth, Challenges and Opportunities in STEM Outreach


This paper explores a comprehensive and proactive approach that is currently being used by the Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP) Program in Southern California to help ensure that the pipeline of scientists, mathematicians and engineers is supported at the early stages of the pipeline in order to increase the numbers of students qualified to obtain technical educations and degrees. The paper addresses the challenges of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach activities in the early grade levels and the need for focusing resources at this early educational stage. The STEP Programs approach that includes interactions with the grade school through high school levels of the educational system as well as active partnerships with colleges and universities to proactively stimulate these systems to produce qualified candidates for hire will be shown. The basic STEP model will be presented as a template. The STEP Program will also be viewed through the eyes and interests of STEP partners who co-authored this paper including the Navy Metrology Engineering Center as a long term sponsor and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a recent technical exhibitor and teacher program participant. These STEP partner views of the program and its relationship to their own long term efforts and interests in STEM outreach to students, teachers and the educational systems will provide insight into the common partnership that was the foundation of STEP since its inception 10 years ago. The paper will discuss the expansion of the STEP Program to other areas of the country, presenting both challenges encountered and achievements to date.


The exponential growth in the demand for workers educated and trained in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields is well documented. As the United States and other industrialized nations continue to advance in utilizing the rapid growth of technology, the worldwide demand for high technology workers continues to stress the systems that produce them. If one considers the apparent existing support structures of the science, technology engineering and mathematician pipeline in the United States, one can quickly conclude that increased efforts and adjustments to resources to support an increased flow of STEM field educated and trained people will be required. Looking at the entire science and engineering pipeline, several available resources can be identified toward the exit end of the pipeline intended to help those students that have made it that far such as with scholarships, internships, work/study programs, and the like. Companies and successful individuals donate large sums to colleges and universities to help keep them at the leading edge. Students with solid STEM foundations are actively recruited by our higher level educational systems. However, at the beginning of the pipeline, we observe much less energy and resources expended in the earlier grades on STEM foundation building and inspiring students to pursue STEM educations and careers. Thus, the simple observation here is that we must recognize that the “Pipeline Starts at the Reservoir“. If the United States ever wants to meet the demand for high technology workers coming from its own citizenry, then it will need to inspire US educated students in the early

Sugg, D., & Gentry, E., & Fishell, J. (2010, June), The Science And Technology Education Partnership (Step): Growth, Challenges And Opportunities In Stem Outreach Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15839

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