The Connection, the STEM Learning Ecosystems monthly newsletter
Volume IX, February 2017
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February 2017

Spotlight: ecosySTEM KC

EcosySTEM KC partners connect industry, educators and see STEM participation skyrocket

Kansas City’s emergence as a thriving hub for tech, entrepreneurship, innovation and the arts make it a natural hotspot for incubating new approaches to STEM education. EcosySTEM KC is increasing communication and discussion of practical solutions among its partners, yielding increased access to STEM education opportunities.
  • The KC STEM Alliance Project Lead The Way Senior Showcase provides a tangible way for students to share innovative projects in engineering and biomedical science and connects students with mentors. Student enrollment in the Showcase increased 92% last year! Read more here.
  • Within ecosySTEM KC, the Missouri Afterschool Alliance, the KS Enrichment Network, and the Johnson County and Kansas City Public Libraries convened a transportation workgroup which presented the student voice to the larger local transportation committee – the first time that the metropolitan group had considered how students utilized the citywide transportation system. How does (or could) your ecosystem help address transportation issues for students in your area? Join the conversation.
  • The Kansas City Public Library, Science Pioneers and the KC Social Innovation Center are among the Ecosystem partners who are using the LRNG platform to create STEM experiences for students. Check out the STEM-related playlists they have developed to date.
  • Ecosystem KC now has the benefit of a STEM Landscape Study. Findings were just released to the leadership team, and a summary of the data will be made publicly available soon.  If your organization has access to valuable studies, please let us all benefit; share the data and learnings with other STEM Learning Ecosystems in the Evaluation & Assessment Group.
Note: Each month, “The Connection” will spotlight the exciting work of a STEM Ecosystem. Be sure to sign up for updates. Interested in being featured in next month’s newsletter? Contact Claire LaBeaux at  

Our New Monthy Column

January was National Mentor Month. STEM Learning relies heavily on mentors, and we know how important they are to helping young learners see themselves as scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and more. 

Events like the Senior Showcase hosted by the KC STEM Alliance, within ecosySTEM KC, provide an opportunity to engage community members to illustrate how STEM education is relevant. KC STEM gathered dozens of mentors for presentations plus small group workshops and individual conversations. As it turns out, the mentors gained as much as the students!

Here are a few thoughts from Troy Reazin, Senior Manager of Field Operations at Coherex/Biosense Webster, Inc. 
  • What did you hope to teach the students? My goal was twofold; one was to give them a glimpse into a novel medical therapy like Left Atrial Appendage Closure, and the mechanism of action of the therapy.  The other goal was to highlight the medical device field and a (possible) career path for some of these students (either as an MD or non-MD).
  • What did you learn from the students? Some of them were very engaging. They asked a lot of questions … and are clearly smarter than me!
  • Why do you want to mentor students? I have benefited in so many ways in my life from various people, at various times, taking the time to guide me and pay things forward.  Whenever I have the opportunity, I try and return the favor to the next generation.
  • Your thoughts for other professionals considering something similar? It's a cliché, but I would tell anyone considering that the "teacher" gets more out of it than the students."
  • Who has mentored you? The CEO of the first start-up company I was involved with back in 1999.  Start-up organizations in the med-tech space have a vastly different culture than large, established device companies.  The pace is extremely fast, and there is a need to wear many hats, which means you inevitably will get out of your comfort zone and feel like you're in the "deep end" with various work streams.  Jim (the CEO) was instrumental in providing guidance, reassurance, and just the right amount of "kick in the pants" that helped me develop skill sets that otherwise, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to acquire.  
As we all work to connect STEM professionals with students, keep in mind these comments are from a first-time volunteer who will certainly continue his efforts to benefit local students.


Interested in Joining the STEM Learning Ecosystem Initiative?

The application window for Cohort 3 is open.  DEADLINE TO APPLY IS MARCH 15TH.
To learn more and watch the informational webinar recordings, visit

News You Can Use                      

The latest in national STEM news:


Mark your calendars for upcoming STEM events:

Feb 19-25: National Engineers Week
Feb 23: Digital Learning Day: teachers and students from around the country will participate in the nationwide celebration highlighting great teaching and demonstrating how technology can improve student outcomes. #DLDay.
March 7, 1:00-2:30PM ET: ESSA and Research Evidence: Opportunities and Challenges for States Webinar presented by the American Policy Youth Forum.
March 8-9: Discover Global Marathon A free, virtual event focused on women in engineering and technology.
 March 19-22: Rise to the Challenge: Game On! The National Afterschool Association Convention. Dallas.
March 29-31: Ready by 21 National Meeting Austin, Texas.
March 30-April 2: National Science Teachers Association National Conference Los Angeles, CA.
April 24-27: National Summit for Educational Equity (NSEE). Arlington, VA  Early bird registration ends March 18, 2017.
April 26: Deadline for submitting videos to the STEM For All Video Showcase 2017. This year’s theme is research and design for impact.
May 24-26: U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference San Diego, CA.
To submit announcements and resources for next month’s newsletter, contact Teresa Drew at  

Did you know? The STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative recently launched a new blog! Subscribe and check out the latest news, opportunities, testimonials and commentary in STEM.
The STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative cultivates and supports nearly 40 local Ecosystems working to improve access to high-quality STEM learning for all students. Launched in September 2015 by the STEM Funders Network, the Initiative empowers communities to bring together unlikely local partners and create systemic change to ensure more students, particularly underserved and underrepresented students, develop the STEM knowledge and skills they need to learn and thrive in today’s world.
The STEM Funders Network brings together grantmakers working in STEM to learn from one another, leverage their collective resources and collaborate on high-impact projects they could not undertake alone. The vision of the STEM Funders Network is that all U.S. students should have equal opportunity to engage in high-quality STEM learning experiences that will enhance their ability to succeed in a STEM career or other chosen path.
Copyright © 2017 STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, All rights reserved.

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