Last week, Rice University announced the creation of a new Office of STEM Engagement as a part of its Priorities for the Second Century. The office, called R-STEM for short, will serve two functions. It will facilitate K-12 outreach events, and it will serve as a one-stop resource for parents and students who want to learn more about Rice’s STEM programs.
Rice is already very involved in K-12 STEM outreach thanks to the efforts of the School Science and Technology Program (SST) and of individual professors. A demonstrated commitment to outreach is an important component of many federal grant proposals in STEM fields, and when these proposals are successful, a portion of the resulting grant money is typically allotted to outreach programs. R-STEM will make it easier for professors writing grants to make connections within the community and develop more effective outreach programs.
R-STEM will also be responsible for overseeing the continuation of some existing Rice STEM outreach projects. The SST currently offers several teacher training events, workshops, and internships, as well as two STEM-focused summer camps made available in partnership with Schlumberger. These programs will now be administered by R-STEM.
Other Rice outreach programs which may or may not be brought under the R-STEM unbrella include the Rice University School Mathematics Project, which offers teacher development courses and also sponsors the math club at Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet; the outreach wing of Beyond Traditional Borders, which puts on a health science-oriented design competition for high school students; and the outreach wing of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering, which makes available two “summer academies” for high school students.
You can read the full Rice University press release on the Office of STEM Engagement here.