COLUMBIA — Students, their robots and leading STEM educators will have an audience with some of the state’s top elected officials when they gather Tuesday in Columbia to celebrate STEM Education Day at the State Capitol.

All regions of the state will be represented at the second annual celebration, which starts at 10 a.m. in the Statehouse rotunda. The event is expected to last about an hour and will include time for questions from the media and the public.

Students and their robots will gather Tuesday in the Statehouse as part of a celebration of STEM education.

Students and their robots will gather Tuesday in the Statehouse as part of a celebration of STEM education.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math and is widely viewed as crucial to preparing students for jobs of the future, particularly in South Carolina, where advanced manufacturing has become a cornerstone of the economy.

Eleven percent of of South Carolina’s total non-agricultural employment in 2018 was in the manufacturing industry, according to the state Department of Commerce. The department reported that 66,000 new manufacturing jobs were announced from 2011-18.

To highlight skills needed in any STEM-focused career, students and educators will demonstrate their robots and other STEM creations in the rotunda and on the east lawn. The teams come from middle- and high schools in Cane Bay, Charleston, Columbia, Due West, Greenville and Summerville.

Also as part of the celebration, officials will introduce the five finalists for the inaugural SC STEM Educator of the Year and announce the winner. The finalists come from school districts in Dorchester, Florence, Newberry, Richland and Spartanburg counties.

Lt. Gov. Pamela Sue Evette will read a proclamation signed by Gov. Henry McMaster that calls on all South Carolinians to recognize the positive impact that STEM education has on their lives.

STEM Education Day at the State Capitol is sponsored by South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science, which is part of Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Tom Peters, executive director of the coalition, said the celebration helps showcase the huge impact STEM educators have on the state’s economic success and the impact STEM education will continue to have as opportunities for STEM careers grow across the state.

“This event is meant to show how South Carolina’s STEM educators are inspiring our students and equipping them with the skills they will need to innovate,” Peters said. “An innovative workforce is South Carolina’s competitive advantage and is key to a stable economy that continues to grow.”

Also on the agenda to speak to the audience are: Nikki Williams Hill, executive vice president of EdVenture; Caroline Mauldin, director of South Carolina Future Minds; Susanne Teague, executive director of the STEM Development Foundation; Julianne Kubitz, a member of the Cane Bay High School Viper Drive team.

More about SC STEM Educator of the Year

Each of the finalists for SC STEM Educator of the Year will receive $1,000. The winner will receive $5,000 and funds for participating in a professional learning conference.

Finalists were announced in March by South Carolina Future Minds, Comporium and S²TEM Centers SC. They are:

  • Deborah Chapman, Science Lab Teacher at Delmae Heights Elementary School in Florence School District One
  • Cecilia Kelly, Project Lead the Way Master Teacher at Mid-Carolina Middle School in Newberry County School District
  • Tracey Mays, STEM, Gift and Talented, Geometry Honors, 6 – 8 Math, and GATE Teacher at Gregg Middle School in Dorchester School District Two.
  • Warren Wise, Science Teacher at Kelly Mill Middle School in Richland School District Two
  • Jeffrey Young, Science and Technology Facilitator and Gifted and Talented Teacher at Woodland Heights Elementary School in Spartanburg School District Six

STEM Education Day at the State Capitol is part of a week-long series of events and actions designed to highlight the importance of STEM Educators and STEM education. Learn more at: https://www.sccoalition.org/stem-day.html.