Eight schools in Utah have qualified for a state STEM designation. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In order to get the title, these schools had to prove they’re serious about each one of those.
The designation came in the form of an award at the STEM Best Practices Conference held in Provo. To earn the award the schools had to take part in a lengthy self-evaluation process. They need updated curriculum, extensive teacher training and community partnerships.
“They get a digital seal they get on their website, letterhead, etc. But there is no financial incentive associated with this designation," says Kelly Yates who is with Utah’s STEM Action Center.
Yates says it’s really not about the seal, it’s about improving. The action center connects schools with research-based methods and connects the schools with each other, creating a network of support.
“Our job is to create some opportunities for our students," says Victor Adrizzone, principal of New Bridge Elementary in Ogden, one of the schools awarded.
Ardizzone's school is located in downtown Ogden and serves high needs kids. He’s pushed for the STEM designation as a way to guarantee his students have the best instruction possible, which he says will bring results.
“Kids that can think, can solve problems. It’s not just the knowledge but the ability to apply the knowledge," Ardizzone says.
For Adrizzone, the award is nice, but secondary. His school has only been around a year and it’s important to prove to the community that they’re taking the steps to be as effective as possible. And if those steps come with a digital seal, it's just an added bonus.