Catching up with the K-12 Engagement Network

The K-12 Engagement Network is focused on developing more connections between the K-12 and Penn State communities. Let’s see what the Network has been up to lately.

Preparing the Next Semiconductor Workforce

Amanda Smith in front of conference sign

Penn State and other top research universities, including Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Pennsylvania College of Technology, University of Delaware, and University of Pennsylvania, convened for a two-day conference at Penn State on May 22–23. The network of universities, all members of the Mid-Atlantic Semiconductor HUB (MASH), will collaborate on research, development, commercialization of semiconductor industries, as well as education development which will involve the K-12 Engagement Network.

Amanda Smith, director of the K-12 Engagement Network, participated in round table discussions to address K-12 pathways to the strong semiconductor workforce needed now and in the future. More than two million jobs are available in the engineering and computer science sector, yet only 500,000 engineers are being produced annually in the United States. Smith will be part of a task force to align assets to develop this STEM pathway.

Read more about MASH.

Supporting Pennsylvania’s Future Educators

The Student Pennsylvania State Education Associate (SPSEA) Conference was held March 24–25 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Future educators took part in a conference to help prepare for a career in K-12 education and painted murals in the Swatara Middle School of the Central Dauphin School District.

The K-12 Engagement Network showcased how Penn State can further support educators as they start their teaching careers through youth programs, competitions, professional learning, field trips with virtual resources, and community of practices for educators.

The closing keynote was given by Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris, a former educator, who shared his experience growing up in a single-parent household, living on food stamps. Harris reminded future educators “you will have young people in your classrooms that will face food insecurity — and they are going to look to you to make things better for them.”

Strengthening STEM Ecosystems in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 

Educators gather for photo in front of STEM presentation slide

In December 2022, Amanda Smith presented at the annual SAS Institute Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Amanda presented to educators alongside Demetrius Roberts, STEM consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Stephanie Schwab, program administrator for Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, on the importance of strengthening STEM Learning Ecosystems in our Commonwealth.

STEM Learning Ecosystems provide the architecture for cross-sector learning, offering young people access to STEM-rich learning environments so they can develop important skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. There are currently 100+ recognized STEM Learning Ecosystems across the globe, with eight in Pennsylvania. They make up the Pennsylvania State STEM Ecosystems (PSSE), which recently released a policy memo on the new K-12 STEELS Standards to the Pennsylvania governor’s office.