STEM Education Learning Tour visits local schools - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

STEM Education Learning Tour visits local schools

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Yakima Valley, WA - The Washington STEM program recently launched a nationwide STEM Education Learning Tour.  Going on from March 16th - 18th; a group of business, education, and community leaders travel throughout Washington to visit local schools and learn about the opportunities and challenges within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

So far, Washington STEM has hosted two tour groups around the state.  All to shine a spotlight on STEM.

"This is developing awareness and advocacy, the people who are a part of the tour want to know more about STEM education in Washington and STEM opportunities for our students," said Mark Cheney, STEM Coordinator for Educational Service District 105.

 On the second day of the tour, tour participants will spend the day exploring STEM programs in the Yakima Valley.  Visiting students and administrators at Zillah Senior High School, Yakama Nation Cultural Center, and the Yakima Valley Skills Center - to learn about STEM opportunities and obstacles students face throughout the Yakima Valley.

"We're jump starting their careers.  From here they can go to college, a university, tech college, or go right to work.  We are giving them skills and knowledge and hopefully the positive attitude to go onto the next level, that's our mission," said Craig Dwight, Principal/Director at Yakima Valley Technical School.

By visiting with students at local schools, the tour group will get a better understanding for how STEM is utilized in both rural areas, like the Yakima Valley,  and urban areas, like the Vancouver area where tour participants spent day one of the tour. 

"We tried to put together a good experience for people.  To be in urban areas, and rural areas, in the Yakima Valley, the STEM careers are different than the careers off the 1-5 corridor," said Cheney.

The main goal of the tour is to shine a spotlight on STEM programs and for people to understand the need for maintaining STEM resources to provide the best education possible for Washington students. 

"STEM related fields are where so many of the jobs will be in the future.  We want to make sure that Washington students are prepared to step right into those careers," said Cheney.

Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit advancing excellence, equity, and innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. For more information, go to