STEM Educational Programs Prepare Pasadena’s Students for College & In-Demand Careers

Monday, October 21, 2019

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Pasadena, Texas has a strong workforce that can add value to any organization. The strength of our workforce begins with our holistic approach to education, an approach that incorporates STEM-based learning in the classroom and through various programs, activities and learning opportunities. 

K-12 STEM Learning

The Pasadena Independent School District (PISD) provides STEM learning opportunities for students of all ages. For example, Elementary Science hosts a STEM fair at the district level annually and individual campuses have a STEM night that is open to the community. “Our curriculum promotes integrated lessons that encourage the use of scientific design in the engineering process,” said Gladys Gonzales, PISD Elementary Science. 

Middle School Science also hosts a STEM fair at the District Level annually, and individual campuses have a STEM/Makerspace nights that are open to the community. At the STEM/Science Fair students participate in STEM activities such as creating a pinball machine, creating marshmallow launchers and making a robotic arm. “Our curriculum promotes integrated lessons, as well.  We have opportunities for students in the traditional classroom to perform laboratory inquiry investigations.  In the personalized learning classrooms, students complete major projects four times a year that are STEM-based focusing on building cognitive skills such as interpreting data and making valid claims, modeling and designing solutions,” said Amber Gareri, PSID Middle School Science. 

At the high school level students are presented with opportunities to incorporate STEM learning into their daily courses, or to attend a Career and Technical High School where the curriculum is focused on preparing students for college or a specific career in fields like computer maintenance and networking or maritime and port operations. “Almost all of our CTE Pathways encompass STEM in some form. We integrate math and science into the fields of health science and cosmetology.  We also integrate the engineering and technology field into auto tech and welding. Pathways are offered that are under a STEM umbrella such as IT, process technology, engineering, robotics and rocketry. This year, we added a computer science Pathway which will provide numerous STEM opportunities. Our students are excited and engaged in STEM activities daily in many of our CTE courses,” said Janna Martin, PSID CTE STEM. 

STEM Learning & College Readiness

This STEM foundation also helps to prepare students to succeed in AP courses as preparation for college. The District’s AP participation and pass rates are impressive and reflect a commitment to college readiness at every level. For example, the School Board allocated funds to pay for AP tests so that all students who wished to participate could do so. They also have dedicated AP teachers who receive ongoing training, AP pep rallies to encourage students, and Saturday District Prep Sessions that regularly draw 300 to 500 students. 

AP Achievements:

·       In 2018, the total number of exams administered increased by almost 3,000 to 7,147.

·       In 2017, students earned over $200,000 in financial awards for successfully passing AP exams

·        Pasadena ISD was named to the National AP Honor Roll for 2012 and 2017

·       Saturday study sessions have increased by the hundreds, from 300 to 500 students

·       PISD teachers serve as consultants for the National Math and Science Initiative

·       Spurred by a local desire to improve its students’ circumstances, administrators and teachers moved to an open-access policy for AP courses. 

Results

PSID’s focus on STEM learning opportunities, career pathways and AP courses has had incredible results, including Senior Elexis Hernandez being one of four students selected for publication into Pioneer Research Journal. She was chosen for her article hypothesizing a special sensory device that can be reprogrammed to help other senses. After her research was published, she was accepted to Yale with a full tuition scholarship. Alvaro Torres is another award recipient. As a high school welder, he participated in the National Craft Championship in California and won first place. Another recent senior, Eduardo Verastegui, was honored as the State Board of Education’s 2019 Student Hero of the Year. Now a graduate of the Lewis Career and Technical High School, Verastegui interns with the Pasadena ISD Communication Department, doing what he loves most, producing videos.

These are just a few examples of the students who are thriving at the PSID and using their STEM education to do great things. 

About Pasadena Independent School District

Pasadena ISD serves approximately 54,000 students at 68 traditional, alternative and career-centered campuses -- covering an 85-mile radius. PSID is currently the 16th largest school district in the state of Texas and employs more than 7,000 individuals, many of whom call the great City of Pasadena home. 

We invite you to explore Pasadena for your family and your business, and to discover the great opportunities that Pasadena ISD has to offer!

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