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September , 2018
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Students from 17 Illinois high schools to demonstrate solutions to real-world Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) problems

CHICAGO, IL – High school students from around the state gathered yesterday at Motorola Mobility in Chicago to showcase their solutions to Research & Development STEM Learning Exchange Challenges presented to them early in the spring semester. Led by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI), students have been collecting data, conducting experiments and working with industry professionals to develop their Challenge solutions.

More than 600 students and 40 teachers from 17 Illinois high schools partnered with experts at top Illinois companies to solve the complex real-world Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Challenges.

“These Challenges are a great example of how students can apply their critical thinking skills now and in the future,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “By solving real-world problems, students are getting a chance to see their personal value in an ever-growing workforce.”

ISTI partnered with Baxter International, ComEd, Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Motorola Solutions, Northrop Grumman Corp., Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and TGG Group to develop the Challenges and matched them with teams of students at each school.

Students demonstrated a variety of skills in response to their Challenge. Some have built mobile applications to address needs in their communities, applied behavioral economics to encourage better environmental practices or food choices, conducted a trade study for a missile defense system, addressed civic water issues, increased participation of youth in clinical trials, and created an energy efficient system that can provide reliable power for the community in disaster situations.

Participating High Schools
Chicago Vocational Career Academy
DePaul College Prep
Glenbrook South High School
Instituto Health Science Career Academy
Lake View High School
Lindblom Math and Science Academy
Maine South High School
Muchin College Prep
Niles North High School
Oak Park and River Forest High School
Palatine High School
Urbana High School
Von Steuben Metro Science Center
Washington Community High School
Waukegan High School
Wheeling High School
Williamsfield High School

“Our goal is to better connect students to careers in STEM fields.  Through this Challenge process, the R&D STEM Learning Exchange allowed students to explore, conduct their own hands-on research, and find mentors in STEM fields, ultimately helping to spur interest and skills in critical industry sectors in our state,” said Mark Harris, president and CEO of ISTI, an affiliate of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.

The STEM Learning Exchanges originated in 2012 when eight organizations were awarded contracts with the state to link educational and business resources to better prepare students to compete in the global economy. The eight STEM Learning Exchanges, coordinated through multiple state agencies in partnership with the Illinois Business Round Table, were established through contracts with the Illinois State Board of Education using Race to the Top funds.

“It’s incredible to see brilliant young minds coming together to solve complex, real-world STEM Challenges,” said Jim Schultz, Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “STEM Challenges gives our students a wonderful opportunity to work with experts to better enhance their learning.”

STEM Challenges demonstrate learning under the new Illinois Learning Standards in Science, also called the “Next Generation Science Standards,” which emphasize more engaged, hands-on science education that is rich in content and practice. The standards aim to give students a deeper understanding of the core concepts in science and engineering as well as practice applying these concepts – linking knowledge and real-world skills.

A 2011 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that Illinois will have an estimated 319,000 STEM-related job openings by 2018. Ninety-three percent of those jobs will require post-secondary education or training.

For more information about the R&D STEM Learning Exchange, visit
http://www.istcoalition.org/r-d-stem-learning-exchange. For more information about all of the STEM Learning Exchanges and upcoming events, visit http://www2.illinoisworknet.com/ilpathways/Pages/STEMLE.aspx.

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