A collaborative STEM career exploration learning community
The relationships developed between students and industry through IGNITE provide a unique opportunity to observe first-hand the types of careers available to students who follow a STEM-related educational path. IGNITE addresses the national need for more STEM-based educational programs by providing students with tools and experiences that will prepare them for professional careers. Furthermore, this program supports Maryland’s growing need for a workforce that both meets the needs of existing employers and attracts new businesses. The IGNITE program includes three major components: professional development for educators, student extracurricular groups (Spark), and industry partnerships.
The organizing teacher within each school drives Spark activities. MdBio Foundation will provide organizing support and a suggested calendar of activities, in addition to holding three cohort-wide events. A suggested minimum of nine Spark meetings with students should be held. During these meetings students will interact with scientific researchers, hands-on activities, or earn SSL hours. Past SSL opportunities include peer mentorship or tutoring of middle school students. Teachers may hold any number of meetings depending on their students’ interest and individual schedules to explore additional content they would like to incorporate.
Key to student career exploration is the strategic partnership between City Schools and local bioscience organizations. Participating organizations will host Spark groups for exposure to their organization and related careers as well as products and/or research. These partnerships allow private industry to engage future workers, spark interest in science careers, and create better informed decision-makers as a whole. Several prominent organizations, including MedImmune, Emergent BioSolutions, and University of Maryland BioPark have committed to participate. MdBio Foundation will draw upon its broad-reaching network of relevant organizations statewide to meet the needs of all of the participating teachers and students.