What the event offers
At the MPS STEM and Career Exploration Expo, students explore a variety of career options that require a strong academic foundation in science, math, technology, engineering, design thinking, and problem-solving skills. Business professionals provide short demonstrations related to their careers and talk in this small group setting about the realistic steps and obstacles in pursuing a STEM career. Students visit exhibitor displays to learn more about after-school and community STEM activities, post-secondary college and career readiness options, and Minnesota STEM-related businesses.
Goals of the event
The primary mission of the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), in alignment with the State of Minnesota’s State legislative requirement to develop the “world’s best workforce” (MN Statute 2013, section 120B.11), is to ensure that all students learn; and support their growth into knowledgeable, skilled and confident citizens capable of succeeding in their work, personal and family life into the 21st century. Goals of the STEM & Career Exploration Expo are to change student perceptions of STEM and high tech, high wage careers, explore related career possibilities, and share the information re: educational pathways required to realize those opportunities. The focus of the STEM & Career Exploration Expo are on Minnesota Centers of Excellence career paths: Healthcare, Information Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing as well as other Minnesota career fields.
In alignment with recommended best practices of the American School Counselors Association (ASCA), the STEM & Career Exploration Expo is designed as community-wide endeavor to begin the career exploration process with MPS 8th grade students; a critical connection between the design of personal learning plans, access to contextual learning opportunities in the classroom, and exploration of the world of work. Students participate in a MyLife Plan career lesson prior to the STEM Expo where a career interest survey is taken and career research completed.
The STEM Expo will provide students with the chance to find relevance in their STEM coursework and understand how it will impact their future career options by encouraging interactions with STEM professionals from industry and post-secondary institutions.
The fact that the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related occupations by 2018 speaks to the importance of creating awareness and career exploration opportunities for MPS middle school students (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2013).
Alignment to the Acceleration 2020 Strategic Plan
The STEM Expo supports the following Minneapolis Public Schools Acceleration 2020 Strategic Plan/District Priorities:
Improved student Outcomes: All students graduate ready for college and career with global competencies for the 21st century.
Equity: Learning for students and student groups is accelerated to transcend disparities and ensure positive educational outcomes.
Family and Community Partnership: MPS engages families and the community to support student success.
About 1,600 MPS 8th graders attended in 2016 and interacted with over seventy industry, postsecondary, and non-profit institutions, representing a variety of STEM areas. Over 240 parents and MPS staff provided volunteer support. Nearly 90% of students, when asked to complete a 16 question survey as they left the event, either agreed or strongly agreed that participating in the Expo was enjoyable. A similarly high percentage of students (83%) endorsed the idea that they will work harder in STEM classes because of the connection to future career opportunities and the same percentage agreed or strongly agreed that they plan to take more STEM-related coursework in the future.
Major sponsors have been Cargill, Boston Scientific, the City of Minneapolis/Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and many additional sponsors have generously contributed over the years. Clich here to view the list of STEM Expo sponsors.