Take a STEM Field Trip

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With the help of local companies, educators in Catawba County, N.C., created a program that aims to inspire all middle schoolers to enter STEM careers by emphasizing that higher education is essential for careers at all levels.

The EXTREME STEM Tour is an annual, day long field trip for about 1,837 students in Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools and Catawba County Schools that takes students to local businesses that offer STEM careers. They also visit the local community college.

The tours started in 2011 when Catawba County Schools received a grant from Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization that provides innovative STEM education programs, and began to work with Education Matters, a partnership between business, government and education working together to increase the value of education in Catawba County.

“It’s more meaningful than just bringing in guest speakers to the classroom,” said Tracy Hall, Catawba Valley Community College Education Matters director who coordinates the program. “They get to see the jobs, smell the jobs, and hear the jobs.”

Infographic depiction the STEM field trip experience.
Illustration: Daniela Madriz