Char-Em Street STEM has been on a roll into local K-8 classrooms this school year, and now it has rolled into top honors at the state level with an Excellence in Practice award from the Michigan Office of Career and Technical Education.

This new Char-Em ISD initiative has brought exciting science, technology, engineering and math activities, gears and gadgets directly to students in all ISD school districts. Its innovative approach to removing barriers for teachers and schools by delivering STEM activities, under the direction of STEM consultant Brandon Beltz, has been a game-changer for schools and students, said Jim Rummer, Director of Career and Technical Education for Char-Em ISD. 

“I am so proud of our career tech team for developing the idea for the mobile STEM program and making it happen. They are an innovative and talented group, and this recognition from the state shows that we are setting the standard in Michigan with career and college readiness opportunities for all students,” Rummer said. “Char-Em ISD CTE has received awards from the state for the last three years running for our unique courses, programs, and camps K-12, and we have no plans for slowing down.”

Char-Em ISD CTE staff receive an Excellence in Practice award for Char-Em Street STEM during the annual career tech conference in Grand Rapids on Jan. 30, 2023.

An awards ceremony took place on Jan. 30, 2023, in Grand Rapids during the Michigan Career Education Conference. “Your program exemplifies the highest standards in preparing Michigan’s students for postsecondary education and careers,” said Brian Pyles, state CTE director.

In describing Street STEM to the awards’ committee, Char-Em ISD Career/College Readiness Consultant Tory Thrush noted, “Street STEM provides STEM directly to the schools and provides students with focused opportunities where they develop, learn and explore new STEM-related skills. This includes the basics of coding, robotics, critical thinking, problem solving, circuits, measuring, and much more. The program also allows for teachers to learn alongside their students and explore new ways to incorporate hands-on, interactive STEM learning experiences in their classrooms.”

Char-Em ISD Superintendent Scott Koziol congratulated the CTE department on the state-level recognition and noted that a number of ISD departments work behind-the-scenes to support Street STEM, from the business office to communications, technology to literacy staff. “The cross-department synergy for Street STEM, and numerous other Char-Em programs, creates an environment for creativity and ingenuity that results in opportunities for kids,” said Koziol. “The consistent teamwork of our ISD departments shines through with awards like this.”

Rummer said that the STEM project has also garnered considerable support from local donors and foundations, who have reached out to support the initiative monetarily. That support resulted in the creation of a custom mascot, Eureka, who accompanies the Street STEM trailer to some classroom visits. “Kids light up when they see Eureka, and that is what this is all about – creating connections with students and getting them excited about science, technology, engineering and math,” Rummer said. “I think we have one of the most innovative career tech departments in the state, and we have more new initiatives in store for the new year ahead.”

Watch a new video about Street STEM on the Char-Em ISD YouTube channel:

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