Spark 101 launches to ignite student interest in STEM

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An innovative, free resource is now available to educators across the nation to help them ignite student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Spark 101 inspires students to thrive in college and future careers and helps teachers bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world applications.

Spark 101 provides teachers with interactive videos from industry and instructional resources to engage their students with real-world problem solving—integrated directly to a course's curriculum.

"Spark 101 gives educators the resources to bring STEM curriculum to life and technology into the classroom, industry a way to inspire the nation's future innovators, and students the motivation to succeed in school and future careers," said Jane Kubasik, founder of the 114th Partnership—the non-profit that developed Spark 101. "We all win when we work together to help our students reach their full potential."

Short, scenario-based videos are shared by industry professionals and directly aligned to national curriculum programs, such as the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP), Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and National Academy Foundation (NAF) programs.

"The College Board is focused on encouraging students to succeed in rigorous, project-based learning experiences that prepare them for both college and career achievements," said Thomas W. Rudin, the College Board's senior vice president for career readiness. "Spark 101 can be an important tool in this process because it enables students to see the application of academics to careers."

Spark 101 relies on partnerships with the employers of our future STEM workforce—from business, government, academic, and non-profit sectors—to create videos that highlight real-world applications of STEM coursework. Several organizations have already contributed content, such as Lockheed Martin, NASA, Proctor and Gamble, PepsiCo, the University of California, Berkeley, and Deloitte.

"Deloitte is excited for our volunteers to strategically support students," said Jeremy Blank, tax partner, Deloitte Tax LLP, and 114th Partnership board member. "Instead of one classroom at a time, our professionals use Spark 101 to scale their reach to help inspire more of our nation's youth to discover and pursue passions that can lead to college and career success."

While available, free of charge, to educators across the nation, Spark 101 is being embraced for local or regional use to serve targeted student populations.  Recently, North Texas became the first region to commit to leverage Spark 101 for its students.  Over the next three years, up to 8,000 North Texas secondary teachers will be trained to effectively use Spark 101 in classrooms, impacting up to 323,000 students.

"By inspiring students with real stories of how STEM fields help people and make the world a better place to live, students are poised to align their personal goals with the skills critical to college and career success," said JD Hoye, president, National Academies Foundation.

Spark 101 is a program within the 114th Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring all students graduate prepared and inspired to thrive in college and in careers. Organizations that support the 114th Partnership include AT&T, Deloitte, Gallup, Kaiser Permanente, the Pearson Foundation, Sodexo, and UnitedHealthcare. Kaiser Permanente offered additional financial resources and Deloitte provided pro bono support toward the development of the Spark 101 tool and pilot. 

To get involved or participate in an upcoming educator or industry training webinar, email Spark101@114th.org