Regional STEM Networks

In 2024, the MN STEM Ecosystem established four regional STEM Networks in Minnesota. Over the next year, we will be continuing the STEM asset mapping process and supporting additional STEM networks across the state.

Each of the networks is committed to building place-based strategies to foster collaboration and increased access to STEM learning.

Learn more about our process and purpose below.

Explore Your STEM Network

Sourcewell provides services to school districts, cities, counties, and other governmental agencies, and nonprofits, in the 5-county North-central region of Minnesota. They are home to innovative STEM learning like the Tech Mobile Lab providing hands-on, technology-centered learning and the Equipment Library, providing schools access to advanced equipment.

Regional STEM Specialist Shelly Munoz

Resource Training & Solutions provides services to school districts, cities, counties, and other governmental agencies, and nonprofits, in the 9-county East-central region of Minnesota. Resource and Training Solutions is home to the Spark STEM Conference- each January more than 700 students, educators gather to spark ingenuity and creativity in STEM!

Regional STEM Specialist Alison Orgaard

The Southeast Service Cooperative serves school districts, cities, counties, and other organizations in the 11-county southeast region of Minnesota. It is home to the STEM Forward program promoting STEM excellence in our K-12 schools and the award-winning Future Forward program connecting students, educators, and employers in experiential learning opportunities.

Regional STEM Specialist Sarah Ness

The Lakes Country Service Cooperative serves school districts, cities, counties, and other organizations in the 9-county west-central region of Minnesota. LCSC is home to MN CTE, a statewide center for CTE teacher pedagogy, preparation, and mentoring through programs like Teach CTE™ and CTE TIP™ focused on CTE teacher recruitment and retention.

Regional STEM Specialist Monica Thompson

Defining Our Networks

Inventory of Existing Regional STEM Assets: Conducting an inventory of existing STEM assets within each region is crucial, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the resources, programs, and opportunities already available to students and educators. This knowledge allows stakeholders to leverage existing assets, avoid duplication of efforts, and maximize the impact of new initiatives. Additionally, the inventory helps identify areas of strength and expertise within the region. .

Identifying Gaps in STEM Learning and Designing Targeted Interventions: Identifying gaps in STEM learning is essential for ensuring equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities for all students. By analyzing the inventory of existing assets, stakeholders can identify underserved communities and populations where resources and support are lacking. Once gaps have been identified, stakeholders can design targeted interventions to address specific needs and challenges.

Integrating Cultural and Community STEM Program Providers: Integrating cultural and community STEM program providers is essential for building equity and inclusivity in STEM education. By partnering with organizations that have deep roots in local communities and understand the cultural nuances and needs of diverse populations, stakeholders can ensure that STEM programs are accessible, relevant, and engaging for all students. These partnerships also help build trust and credibility within communities, making it easier to recruit and retain participants from underrepresented backgrounds.

Regional STEM Coordinator: A regional STEM coordinator plays a pivotal role in facilitating collaboration and communication among stakeholders within the region. By having a designated point person focused on STEM initiatives, stakeholders can ensure that efforts are cohesive, strategic, and effectively aligned with regional priorities and goals. The regional STEM coordinator serves as a central hub for information sharing, resource dissemination, and partnership development. They work closely with educators, community leaders, industry partners, and other stakeholders to identify needs, address challenges, and leverage opportunities for collaboration.

STEM Community of Practice Convenings: Regional STEM Community of Practice Convenings provide valuable opportunities for stakeholders to come together, share knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned, and build relationships with one another. The convenings help ensure that STEM initiatives are responsive to the evolving needs and priorities of the region. By providing regular opportunities for reflection, evaluation, and feedback, stakeholders can assess the impact of their efforts, identify areas for growth, and make data-informed decisions to drive positive change.

Place-based STEM Learning Initiatives:  By tailoring STEM learning to specific geographical locations, educators can address the unique challenges, assets, and interests of each community. This targeted approach increases the relevance and effectiveness of STEM learning experiences, leading to higher levels of engagement and retention among students.

Opportunities to Create Braided Funding: By integrating both in-school and out-of-school learning providers within regional STEM networks, it becomes feasible to pool resources and funding streams. Braided funding promotes collaboration, resource sharing, and the development of comprehensive STEM initiatives that benefit students both inside and outside the classroom.

Programs with Scalability:  Scalability is a key consideration in the design and implementation programs and initiatives. Place-based STEM learning enables stakeholders to closely monitor the implementation process, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments before scaling up to larger regions or populations. The success of place-based programs can build a strong case for expanding successful initiatives to new communities, schools, or even other regions!

Evidence-Based Recommendations for STEM Education: Through the integration of in-school and out-of-school learning providers within regional STEM networks, valuable data and insights can be gathered to inform evidence-based recommendations for enhancing STEM education.