Washington STEM News!

Vashon Island’s Experiment in School

Construction + STEM Learning

The Vashon Island School District faced two seemingly unrelated challenges shared by many school systems across Washington: it needed to replace its aging and dilapidated high school building, and too many of its students were struggling in math. So the district decided to tackle the problems in tandem. Read more in our latest STEM in Action story.



2014 Legislative Session Recap

Washington STEM and leaders from our regional networks worked hard throughout the Legislature’s session to educate lawmakers about the importance of investing in STEM. With the close of the 2014 legislative session last week, here is a quick recap of the STEM issues that were at play:

24-Credit High School Diploma
During the final days of session, ESSB 6652 passed by votes of 93-5 in the House and 45-2 in the Senate, authorizing a new 24-credit high school diploma. We are particularly excited about the addition of a third credit of science, which will help ensure that our students graduate ready for college and careers. The bill also allows students to more consistently earn math or science credit for Career & Tech Education (CTE) classes. Governor Inslee is expected to take action.

Washington MESA 
We are excited that the state provided funding for Washington MESA, one of our inaugural funded partners, and its Community College Program on six community college campuses across the state. MESA provides under-represented students with academic and transfer-support services to help them excel and ultimately attain two- and four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, the program started in California and has been successfully replicated in over a dozen states.

Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance
The Governor’s supplemental budget priorities and the Senate’s operating budget included critical funding for the work of the Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance: helping teachers implement new math and science standards, exposing kids to STEM jobs through internships, and supporting the growing number of regional STEM Networks organizing around the state. Ultimately, the funding was not included in the state’s final budget. Recognizing this work takes time, we are pleased with the progress made and the support received from legislative champions.

K-12 STEM Capital Grants program
Recognizing the need to help schools design and build cutting edge classrooms that support high-quality STEM education, the Senate proposed the creation of a new K-12 STEM capital grants program with $50M in start-up funding. For the first time since 1996, the legislature did not pass a capital budget. As a result, this program was not created nor funded. There is significant momentum around this issue in Olympia and districts across the state. We were honored that key members of the Senate asked Washington STEM to play a role in this important work.


Washington STEM in the News

Washington STEM, along with several key partners, placed numerous op-eds and secured editorial board coverage regarding STEM issues during this legislative session in several prominent newspapers, including The Seattle Times, the Puget Sound Business Journal, The Olympian, the Bellingham Herald, Crosscut, and The Tri-Cities Herald. Read our news here.

Portland Public Schools is Hiring over 350 Educators for the 2014-2015 School Year!

Portland Public Schools (PPS) is the largest school district in Oregon, serving 47,000 students in 85 regular school buildings, as well as alternative schools and specialized programs for students with special needs. We are a diverse school district with over 94 languages spoken and 47% diversity within our student population. 

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If you believe every child deserves a great education, every child deserves a great teacher, and every teacher deserves to be inspired by a great leader then Portland Public Schools is the place for you!

Portland Public Schools is looking for qualified, experienced educators who are passionate about teaching and excited about making an impact in a student’s life. Experience working in a richly diverse school community/environment preferred.

As a teacher in the District you will enjoy:

  • Paid Holidays
  • $1500 in Professional Development Funds
  • Collaborative work environment
  • Teacher Mentor Opportunities
  • 192 day work year (paid 10 or 12 months)
  • Participation in Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s)
  • Comprehensive benefits package (District pays 93% of health insurance costs) including medical, dental, vision, disability, life insurance, flexible spending account, 403(b), PERS retirement plan, sick leave, bereavement leave, and more!
  • $1500 per school year added to salary for those that receive and retain National Board Certification.
  • $1500 per school year added to salary for those with a doctorate degree in a field related to their assignment.

Candidates must hold a valid Oregon teaching license. Master’s degree preferred. Some positions may require demonstrated bilingual/bi-literate proficiency in a language other than English.

To learn more about educator job opportunities and apply to open positions please visit our website and complete the online “certified” application.

Please feel free to contact our Human Resources department at (503) 916-3544 with any questions.

Please check out our website for information on the Portland Public Schools Recruitment Fair on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at the Marshall HS Campus (3905 SE 91st Ave. Portland, OR 97266).

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Download the flyer here: PPS Recruitment-Flyer

MESA in Legislative News!

The following was published about MESA in the Legislative News:

“The Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Community College Program (MCCP) was highlighted at a House Higher Education Committee work session on Tuesday, Feb. 25. MESA provides under-represented students academic and transfer-support services to help them excel and ultimately attain four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields. Started in California, the program has successfully been replicated in over a dozen states. Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 3.08.03 PM

Six colleges — Columbia Basin College, Edmonds Community College, Highline Community College, Olympic College, Seattle Central Community College, Yakima Valley Community College — have participated in a pilot project for the past five years partly funded through a National Science Foundation grant. The grant expires June 30, 2015.

The House Appropriation Committee’s 2014 supplemental budget proposal includes $410,000, one year’s worth of funding to continue the MCCP pilot programs at the six colleges.

James Dorsey, Washington MESA executive director explained how the dedicated support and services — especially the sense of community and connection — help students excel. Services include student orientation, advising, dedicated study centers, STEM career exploration and transfer assistance.

Jeff Wagnitz, Highline Community College vice president of academic affairs, said MESA was a great match for Highline. With 70 percent students of color, the college serves one of the most diverse communities in the state. And Highline has a long academic tradition of STEM programs and resources, including engineering and robotics, a math resource center, computer information systems and cyber-security programs, chemistry and physics labs, science seminars, and the Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center.

Chera Amlag, Highline Community College MESA director, gave an overview of the program’s academic supports, including Academic Excellence Workshops, the STEM Gateway Course, collaboration with math resource and tutoring centers, individual and group study, success seminars, scholarship, internship, and undergraduate research resources.

Kalani Plunkett, Highline MCCP electrical engineering student, said, “When I told my friends and family that I wanted to be an electrical engineer, they laughed at me.”

But thanks to MCCP at Highline, he gained study skills needed to succeed and connected with university engineering programs and working professionals.

“MESA has a pay it forward philosophy,” Plunkett explained. He eventually became a physics, calculus, and chemistry tutor himself, reaching back to help other students in the same way he’d been helped. He’s been accepted into the engineering programs at Washington State University and University of Michigan.

Lydia Smith, Highline MCCP second year nursing student, was in the military and had been out of school for 13 years. She said the value of MESA connections goes well beyond academic support, with opportunities for scholarships, internships, and friendship.

“MESA is more than just a place to study,” she said. “It’s a community and family that gives us support to keep each other from falling through the cracks.”

A coveted research internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has sparked Smith’s goal to earn a PhD in research and development of bacteriophages (viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria) as antibiotics.”

To read the entire story please click here: Legislative News

Expanding Your Horizons Conference

Attention middle school MESA girls are you in grades 6th, 7th, or 8th, do you enjoy math and science? And are you already thinking about your future?
Expanding Your Horizons, is a conference that will be hosted at

Washington State University on Saturday March 22, 2014. Space is available to 150 girls from the Tri-Cities and Yakima Valley area. This conference will provide career information and role models for middle school girls. Professional women share their enthusiasm, education requirements and salaries earned while working in a scientific, technical and financial careers. These presenters will not lecture students but involve them in various ways to

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.05.54 AMcreate hands-on experiences in each workshop. Please stay tuned with your MESA middle school teacher to see how you can register for this conference. More information as the date approaches.

TVW – The Way to Watch Government News

The leaders who founded TVW shared a vision to fill the void left by traditional news media’s waning coverage of the state capitol, and, like C-SPAN at the federal level, give citizens unbiased, unfiltered access to state government deliberations.

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This site provides a constant view of what is going on politically with the state government.

Seattle MESA Saturday Academy

I am happy to announce that we are having our first Saturday Academy this Saturday, February 22nd from 9am – 3pm. This saturday the academy will focus on Marine Biology with the first session covering Watersheds, Oceans and Tide pool Critters.

Two Exciting Scholarship Opportunities Open NOW!

The applications for two exciting scholarship opportunities are open now. Please apply as soon as possible!

Leadership 1000 Scholarship

The Leadership 1000 Scholarship provides up to $25,000 to students who need assistance attending an eligible four-year college or university in Washington state. Please take a moment to review the eligibility criteria on our website if you have students who may be eligible.

The online application can be completed on our website, and must be submitted by March 31.

For more information or questions about the Leadership 1000 Scholarship please contact Lauren Hardin at lhardin@collegesuccessfoundation.org or 1.877.655.4097


Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

There are only a few days left for students to apply for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, which provides up to $17,000 for low- and middle-income students pursuing eligible, high-demand majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and health care.

Applications must be submitted by 5 pm on Monday February 24. Students must mail their official transcripts and submit the FAFSA online by the application deadline. Late transcripts will not be accepted.

Additional eligibility information as well as a promotional flyer and sample application are available on our website. For information or questions about WSOS, call the toll free number: 1-877-899-5002

Tacoma MESA Day Volunteers Needed

The Tacoma/South Puget Sound MESA Program will be hosting its 14th annual MESA Day on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, from 9:00am to 1:00pm at Pacific Lutheran University. MESA students from four school districts will be gathering to compete in our local engineering competition for K-12 students. Students have been working on specific engineering challenges throughout the year and now their hard work will be on display at this event. We are expecting over 300 elementary, middle, and high school students and we need your help!

We invite you to become a volunteer by being a contest judge or even a contest scorekeeper. There are various volunteer roles that you can choose from.  Please register online today!

Please volunteer here at the Tacoma MESA Day Volunteer Registration site.  At the bottom of the registration form on our website are descriptions of various volunteer roles and MESA Day activities.  This information can help you fill out the volunteer registration form.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at (ellisjr@plu.edu) or call me at (253) 535-7198.

Thank you in advance for volunteering and please feel free to tell a co-worker or friend.

2014 Washington MESA and OSPI Engineering Summit

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Washington MESA and OSPI are cohosting an Engineering Summit on February 11, 2014. to share knowledge, ideas, and expertise on pre-service and in-service teacher preparedness to meet the Engineering standards in the Next Generation Standards. The summit brings together the strength and expertise of regional informal and formal educators and industry partners to thinking about approaches to engineering instruction in K-12.

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Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Washington State MESA Day 2014

Hosted by Microsoft at the Redmond Conference Center on May 17, 2014 Washington MESA Day represents a one-day event of excitement and academic challenges for Middle and High School MESA students from MESA Centers across the state of Washington.With their teachers, parents, center coordinators, and Directors regional winners participate in challenges in mathematics, design engineering, and scientific research presentations.


Students compete for prizes and awards which allows them to develop valuable academic and social skills as they participate in hands-on learning, team management, communication, and leadership in both oral and written Challenges. The winner of the challenge will go on to compete in the national competition in June.

WA MESA Day is open to the public, although only MESA middle and high schools students are eligible to participate and compete.

WA MESA DAY 2014 is on May 17, in Redmond, WA. To volunteer at this event please fill out the registration form which will be located here on the Washington MESA Day 2014 Volunteer Page. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the MESA Curriculum Director Dr. Phyllis Harvey-Buschel at pgharvey@uw.edu.

REGISTER HERE: Washington MESA Day 2014 Registration page.

MESA National Competition:

Fostering collaboration with Washington State’s rich community of scientists and engineers, MESA students will showcase their talents for future careers in STEM fields. For example, in the Robotics – Prosthetics Arm competition students will compete with a technical paper, oral and poster presentation. The winner of the WEC will go on to compete in the National MESA Challenge hosted by Oregon MESA from June 20-22, 2014. See the MESA USA site for more details.