Partnership creates a national model for STEM career pathways by bridging the needs of the public and private sectors
[Newark, NJ – February 23, 2017] Newark Public Schools (NPS) announced that the district is partnering with Students 2 Science (S2S), a model program that delivers rigorous problem and project-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education learning opportunities to students. The partnership is a part of Newark Public Schools’ larger vision to make Newark a model for urban science education, and is designed to promote skills that Newark students need in order to compete in a 21st century global economy, such as critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills, among others.
S2S brings strong corporate relationships to the partnership that provide Newark students with the opportunity to collaborate with scientists and STEM professionals on a wide-variety of real world experiments that are connected to New Jersey’s Next Generation Science standards. The program aims to inspire and motivate students while helping them prepare for high demand STEM careers.
“This partnership opens up opportunities to our students and community we could not have imagined,” said Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “S2S is not only inspiring our students to pursue the jobs of the future by exposing them to STEM role models and real world problems, but is also giving Newark students the necessary skills to become college and career ready. Through our partnership with S2S, Newark is developing an innovative national model that will help educate our future workforce and have a profound impact in communities across New Jersey and the entire country.”
This fall, 25 schools are participating in a pilot program where NPS students work on rigorous project-based learning activities with volunteer scientists from top scientific companies across the region. This year, 10 middle and high schools are traveling to the East Hanover Technology Center for 30 sessions total, with 250 virtual lab sessions being conducted across all 25 schools. Over the next four years, all Newark students from 5th to 12th grade will have the opportunity to engage with these programs at an anticipated new site located in Newark.
“We take our students out of the classroom and into an authentic commercial laboratory, where they work side by side with professional scientists to solve real life problems. The experience strips away the intimidation often associated with STEM subjects, instills confidence, and inspires and motivates the students,” said Paul Winslow, President and Co-Founder of Students 2 Science, Inc. “The virtual lab component is an extraordinary opportunity to bring science and content experts directly into the classroom where our students interact across a multimedia platform, provided by Connectivity, Inc. We teach students 21st century skills with advanced technologies and they respond with enthusiasm and a greater desire to pursue STEM careers. We believe the programs are a win for both the public and private sectors, but most importantly for our students and their future.”
The partnership is an important component of NPS’s larger vision to make Newark a model for urban science education. At the core of this vision is a focus on providing students with opportunities for hands-on experimentation and exposing them to real-world applications of science, while emphasizing problem-solving. In addition to S2S, NPS is making investments in new science curricula, establishing robotics programs in all schools, and has supported numerous initiatives at specific school sites where strong science programs already exist.
At the heart of NPS’s partnership with S2S will be the opening of a 10,000-square-foot Newark S2S Technology Center, which will be outfitted with approximately $4 million of state-of-the-art commercial equipment. The Newark S2S Technology Center will be an important resource for NPS’s science education programs, enabling students to work side-by-side with STEM professionals and corporate mentors in the heart of Newark. To date, over $2 million worth of scientific equipment, laboratory furniture and consumables have been secured from companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck, Johnson and Johnson, and Airgas, among others.
“Through our partnership with S2S and Newark Public Schools, we will make a meaningful impact on students in underserved communities,” said Stan Nelson, Director of Food and Agriculture Markets at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Our goal is to ensure that Newark students have a state-of-the-art laboratory with innovative equipment to explore career paths they may never have imagined.”
In addition to the Newark S2S Technology Center, students will participate in virtual laboratories (V-Labs), utilizing a fully interactive multi-media communications platform. This platform allows students to interact with scientists through live video lessons and conduct experiments at their desks and is available in 200 spoken languages with interpreters on demand. The platform is also a valuable resource for teachers, providing instructors with lesson plans, along with video tutorials and supply kits to conduct any given experiment with three separate classes. Additionally, the platform allows NPS and S2S to provide professional development for teachers, deliver “train the trainer” opportunities, and empower high school students to develop the necessary skills to do peer-to-peer mentoring and teaching with younger students.
Newark’s lead STEM funder, the PSEG Foundation, has committed $500,000 and hopes their gift encourages others to join them in building Newark into a model for science education.
“Newark Public Schools and Students 2 Science are helping establish a pipeline of curious and prepared elementary, middle and high school students, ready to pursue high demand STEM fields of study,” said Ellen Lambert, President of the PSEG Foundation. “We are excited to champion this project and support the district’s goals to bring STEM education to more of Newark’s students.”
The global demand for highly skilled workers in STEM fields is growing rapidly, and New Jersey in particular employs more STEM workers per capita than any other state. The National Science Foundation estimates that 80 percent of U.S. jobs created in the next decade will require math and science skills. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 60 percent of U.S. businesses report difficulty in filling technical positions. Through their project, NPS and S2S aim to engage students in STEM education and careers throughout elementary, middle and high school, in order to prepare students to compete in a global economy upon entering the workforce.
A powerful list of advocates have also joined hands to support the Newark S2S Technology Center project, including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Councilman-At-Large Luis A. Quintana, and New Jersey State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz.
To date, over $1 million has been raised, with another $2 million pledged to the project. The remaining philanthropic dollars needed are $7 million in order to reach district wide goals by 2021.
“Our success means not only better careers for our students, but also putting Newark on the map as a place people look to for great science education,” added Superintendent Cerf.
About Students 2 Science
S2S is a 501(c)(3) model program in New Jersey that addresses the STEM needs of the public and private sectors. The S2S mission is to inspire, motivate, and educate elementary, middle, and high school students to pursue careers in STEM subjects. This is accomplished by providing an authentic, state-of- the-art laboratory experience, complete with modern instrumentation and professional scientists. The S2S Technology Center in East Hanover, NJ, houses approximately 5,000 sq. feet of commercial laboratory space equipped with over $4 million of laboratory instrumentation, allowing the performance of experiments in a multitude of STEM fields. Additionally, S2S offers remote, web-based, virtual STEM experiences through its Virtual Laboratory (V-Lab) program. Teams of students, working collaboratively with scientific professionals who serve as role models, solve real-life problems while being introduced to a wide variety of 21st century STEM career opportunities such as those in the pharmaceutical industry, the scientific equipment arena, and the gamut of engineering fields. It is these proven and successful programs that S2S will embed in the Newark Public School system and where we have demonstrated seven years of success.
About the Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science, with revenues of $18 billion and more than 55,000 employees globally. Our mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. We help our customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics and increase laboratory productivity. Through our premier brands Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific and Unity Lab Services we offer an unmatched combination of innovative technologies, purchasing convenience and comprehensive support. For more information, please visit www.thermofisher.com.
About the PSEG Foundation
The PSEG Foundation (501c3) is the philanthropic arm of Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG). The Foundation generally supports and invests in programs in three areas: community and the environment, education and safety. The Foundation provides grants to organizations in communities served by PSEG and its subsidiaries.