Kemi Jona Describes STEM Education Partnerships on Panel with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Kemi Jona Describes STEM Education Partnerships on Panel with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth panel with Kemi Jona

Professor Kemi Jona of the School of Education and Social Policy participated in a panel led by U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth to discuss effective partnerships for promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. STEM programs with real-world applications prepare students to meet growing workforce needs.

As director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), Jona leads initiatives to connect classrooms from kindergarten through high school with the cutting-edge resources of Northwestern University. At the August 22 event, he and District 54 assistant superintendent Nicholas Myers explained the partnership that brings the high-tech FUSE program to five schools in Schaumburg this year.

The FUSE program, developed by Jona and professor Reed Stevens, draws young people into STEM with highly motivating hands-on activities and builds skills with the kind of leveling-up platform used in video games. FUSE challenges focus on robotics, electronics, phone app development, sound mixing and fashion design.

OSEP is also partnering with Motorola Solutions and Northrup Grumman on other STEM education efforts, including the Research and Development Learning Exchange as part of the Illinois Pathways Initiative. Preparing students for careers in STEM is the goal of Illinois learning exchanges, which link educational opportunities and business resources.

Education, business and nonprofit leaders from in and around Palatine participated in the panel at the August 22 event, which took place at Carl Sandburg Junior High School in Rolling Meadows. Panelists included Scott Thompson, District 15 superintendent; Theresa Busch, District 211 assistant superintendent; Bruce Heggeland, manufacturing liaison at Harper College; and Vicky King, Girl Scouts vice president for Chicago area.

Matt Blakely, Motorola Solutions Foundation director, and Jeanne Usher of Northrop Grumman also participated; both companies provide significant funding for STEM education. STEM curricula can prepare students for future jobs with those companies.

Duckworth recognized the effective partnerships that support STEM education for children, especially considering the fact that currently 350,000 STEM jobs in Illinois remain unfilled. “We need to be competitive, and have an economy built to last, where innovation will flourish,” Duckworth said, emphasizing the importance of preparing workers with needed skills.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17