JCERT Partners’ K-12 Initiatives Support STEM Workforce Development

JCERT fosters business community expansion by bringing academic and research initiatives to the regional economy. Events and programs at partner universities help raise up talented, educated professionals who contribute highly desired science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to the area’s workforce.

Our higher education partners begin this process early in students’ academic careers by offering numerous STEM-education experiences dedicated to grades K-12. Tens of thousands of elementary, middle and high-school students have engaged in this outreach since JCERT launched in 2009.

JCERT higher education partners’ K-12 initiatives include:

The Greater Kansas City area is the national leader in animal health and nutrition. To help local high school students learn more about careers in these fields, Kansas State University Olathe hosts a lecture series each spring and fall to explore animal health, nutrition, research and development, and pet care.

The KU Edwards Campus recently held its Biotech Learning Labs for high school students to learn current trends and perform hands-on experience with KUEC faculty and students. The inaugural Biotechnology Day provided hundreds of local high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to learn about the growing field and the university’s bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. During the day, attendees learned from research presentations by KUEC students, attended a biotechnology panel session with faculty and presented their own research in a flash science fair. Students also spent time conducting hands-on experiments in the university’s new biotechnology lab. Last fall’s Bioscience Education Summit gathered local high school and two-year college instructors, administrators and counselors to address critical challenges facing the entire education pathway. The KUEC biotechnology program also offers high school research internships in the summer.

Sponsored by Microsoft and supported by K-State Olathe’s K-12 team, Microsoft DigiGirlz High is designed to dispel stereotypes by spotlighting women in STEM industries and encouraging girls in grades 8-12 to consider careers in technology. At the event, girls connect with women who work at Microsoft and in Kansas City-based tech companies and interact with cutting-edge technologies, including the Microsoft HoloLens and Notes for Life.

At the KU Edwards Campus last fall, nearly 80 local high school students attended an Information Technology workshop that covered areas such as web design, cybersecurity, system administration and college- and career-planning sessions. Local professionals, faculty and staff led the sessions, provided career insights and shared educational information about KUEC’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees in IT.

Each summer, K-State Olathe offers high school juniors and seniors a free, non-credit, online course about One Health, an integrative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. The course educates students about food safety, diseases animals and humans share and environmental issues that affect humans and ecosystem health.

  • School Counselor Outreach – STEM

Dozens of area K-12 counselors who focus on STEM education joined the KU Center for STEM Learning and the UKanTeach Program at the KU Edwards Campus for the STEM Counseling for Success for Secondary Counselors & Administrators event last fall. The event connected educators, local STEM organizations, area employers and featured KU alumnus and research professor Brian McClendon, who is well known for his groundbreaking work with Google and Uber.

  • School Science Programs

The K-12 science education programs at K-State Olathe are designed to support the six Johnson County public school districts and other schools in the Greater Kansas City area in collaboratively developing, coordinating and participating in educational programs in animal health, food safety and food security. The program makes food safety and science curriculum enhancements available for area educators to help demonstrate classroom concepts in real-world applications. K-State Olathe educators can modify the curriculum to meet teachers’ or students’ needs. Topics include water cycle, zoonosis, One Health, foodborne illnesses and immune systems.

The Degree in 3 program at the KU Edwards Campus gives high school students across the Kansas City metro an accelerated path to a bachelor’s degree through a collaborative effort with several area school districts and community colleges. Degree in 3 enables students from participating schools to earn a bachelor’s degree from KU in only three years. The program potentially reduces students’ education costs and accelerates their entrance into graduate school or the Kansas City workforce. In June, education and community leaders from both sides of the state line gathered to witness KUEC Vice Chancellor David Cook, superintendents and directors from six school districts and three community college presidents and chancellors sign a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the Degree in 3 program.

  • Summer Camps

Every year, hundreds of area K-12 students take advantage of summer camps at both K-State Olathe and the KU Edwards Campus. The offerings are rooted in each university’s academic offerings and led by experts in those areas. Sessions have included interactive camps on food preparation and safety; animal health and safety; farm-to-table food nutrition; food production life cycle; exercise science, balance and strength; coding; robotics and biotechnology.