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Q&A About STEM Education & Careers with Discovery Education’s Senior Director of Instructional Design, Jamie Jenkins

The ACE-ED team recently sat down with Jamie Jenkins, a Senior Director of Instructional Design at Discovery Education. Discovery Education is a global education technology leader on a mission to bring the real world to the classroom by nurturing student curiosity and supporting educators.

At Discovery Education, Jamie applies her more than 15 years of educational experience—spanning teaching, instructional design, standards development, and district leadership in curriculum and professional development. She is the recipient of several state and national teaching awards and has three master’s degrees. Suffice it to say, Jamie knows what she’s talking about.

In this interview, Jamie shared about one of the latest projects she works on at Discovery Education: STEM Careers Coalition.

Jamie, tell us about your role at Discovery Education and what you did prior to joining Discovery Education?

At Discovery Education, I collaborate with teachers and corporate partners to develop curriculum and content that strengthens the connection between classrooms and industry. These partnerships help Discovery Education align with both industry needs and standards to ensure that students are prepared for the workforce and that their learning connects to the real world in meaningful ways.

Prior to joining Discovery Education, I taught elementary, middle school science, and high school biology where I also held leadership roles as a department chair. As a district curriculum specialist, I helped run our DNA resource center that developed, field tested, evaluated, and replicated model programs in biotechnology and supported our Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs.

As a former educator, I apply my experiences in the classroom to my work at Discovery Education every day. For example, in my role as a district curriculum specialist, I designed, implemented, and evaluated full-year and multi-year STEM programming in K-12 including several project-based units for CTE pathways and best practices for incorporating workforce development into core instruction. This experience informed the development of the STEM Careers Coalition resources, which provide teachers with tools and strategies to integrate career preparation and awareness into classroom instruction.

What is the STEM Careers Coalition? What was the impetus for forming it? How do you help educators nurture student’s STEM curiosity? Why should students look to STEM careers?

The STEM Careers Coalition helps prepare 10 million students for the future of work by providing all learners access to engaging digital content and experiences, pairs STEM principles with workforce development, and integrates critical skills needed for college and career success.

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math-related fields are expected to increase 11% by 2032. And while these jobs are typically higher paying, students today just aren’t seeing their pathway to STEM career success. In fact, research from Gallup and the nonprofit Walton Family Foundation showcases that students need and want more STEM career exposure.

That’s where the STEM Careers Coalition comes in. Having reached over 7.9 million students, the Coalition is nurturing a diverse culture of STEM education in K-12 schools and afterschool centers nationwide by empowering educators to teach STEM effectively in the classroom, fostering and promoting quality education, and building the next generation of STEM solution-seekers with an intentional focus ensuring all students have the opportunity to experience high-quality STEM opportunities.

All the STEM Careers Coalition content is available at no cost, including engaging career profiles and career mapping content. Students hear firsthand from STEM professionals working across diverse STEM-related roles in a variety of disciplines including computer science, engineering, mechanics, manufacturing, and much more. Students can see people like them working in STEM careers while diving deeper into the topic with a variety of hands-on, lessons, activities, and career preparation resources. Teachers can then introduce students to STEM with over 200 resources designed to uncover students’ STEM skills to activate future solution seekers.

There are some big names in the Coalition. What do the partners do as part of the Coalition? How do students and educators benefit from their participation in the coalition?

Our industry partners provide insights into the latest trends, job pipelines, technologies, and skills required in the workforce. Together we collaborate to develop curriculum materials that are aligned with real-world applications and are up-to-date preparing students for future careers. This provides a wealth of resources for students to start exploring their future professional identity, learn what is driving tomorrow’s jobs, creating an academic resume, and thinking through the next steps in pursuing their passion, including how to plan strategically though loans, grants, and scholarships.

Learning standards are really important to educators. Can you share how the STEM Careers Coalition resources align to standards? How can educators use these resources in the classroom?

All the resources from the STEM Careers Coalition are aligned with relevant teaching standards and anchor standards in workforce development. This includes the Next Generation Science Standards. This means that educators don’t need to worry if they will fit into a lesson or not. Furthermore, my team intentionally designs all the content – from videos to lesson plans to interactives and more – to be engaging, flexible, and turnkey.

Where do educators go to learn more?

Anyone can access the award-winning no-cost resources from the STEM Careers Coalition at stemcareerscoalition.org. Plus, users of the Discovery Education Experience – our award-winning K-12 learning platform – can find all these resources and more on the service.

Discovery Education is the worldwide edtech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place. Through its award-winning multimedia content, instructional supports, and innovative classroom tools, Discovery Education helps educators deliver equitable learning experiences engaging all students and supporting higher academic achievement on a global scale. Discovery Education serves approximately 4.5 million educators and 45 million students worldwide, and its resources are accessed in over 100 countries and territories. Inspired by the global media company Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and trusted organizations to empower teachers with leading edtech solutions that support the success of all learners. Explore the future of education at DiscoveryEducation.com.

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Equity & Access - Issue 28

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