Looking Ahead to 2019!


Welcome back! 2018 was a landmark year for STEM in Tennessee. In May, 15 schools across the state were inaugurally awarded Tennessee STEM Designation. These schools have raised the bar for STEM engagement in our state by providing students with authentic learning experiences and integrated curricula to promote 21st century skill development. As we look ahead to 2019, we are excited to expand our offerings to engage even more leaders, educators, and, most importantly students, in STEM. We are grateful to work with you in our mission to engage ALL students, regardless of zip code, and promote our state as a national model of STEM integration. 2019 is going to be a big year and we are excited to undertake this journey with you. Check out some new opportunities to partner with us this year!

New for 2018-2019:

 Manufacturing and Engineering Externship Program

We are very excited to announce that the Network was awarded a grant from the Office of Naval Research to launch the Manufacturing and Engineering Externship Program (MEEP). This opportunity seeks to address the growing STEM skills gap by engaging Tennessee educators in paid summer externship experiences with local STEM industries. Each educator in the program will participate in Project Based Learning (PBL) training and then develop an inquiry-based curricular unit that introduces students to the skills necessary in the advanced manufacturing and engineering fields. Applications to participate in the pilot program will open February 2019!

Statewide Design Challenge 

In an effort to support direct STEM outreach to students, we are partnering with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to pilot a statewide design challenge for Tennessee students.  The challenge encourages students to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to promote sustainable development in our state through clean energy solutions.  Schools will conduct project expos and then select outstanding projects to participate in a Statewide Expo in Nashville at the 2019 STEM Innovation Summit. There is still time to engage your students with this opportunity! Register here to receive a digital Starter Kit and start this unique opportunity with your students!

Professional Learning Series

In 2018, the Network developed a series of professional development opportunities. Regardless of whether your school is experimenting with STEM for the first time, or looking to refresh and rejuvenate staff on a specific topic, these opportunities can be tailored to support schools at any level of STEM implementation. Contact us to schedule. The topics include:

  • Attributes of STEM – Identifies the essential components of a well-rounded STEM program, allowing time for leadership teams to design a strategic plan for the building level.
  • Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat – Provides strategies by incorporating PBL training to encourage active student learning while connecting content standards to authentic learning experiences.
  • Purposeful Partnerships – Teachers and leaders engage in a local asset mapping activity to identify potential community partners that could enhance student learning experiences.
  • First Gear to Engineer – Teachers will be provided resources to encourage students to use the engineering design process to solve problems and create solutions.
  • Courageous Leadership – Leadership teams can be the catalyst for change; this session will provide a variety of strategies to transform traditional classrooms into innovative learning environments.  

STEM Micro-Credential Pilot

In 2018, The Tennessee Department of Education piloted the STEM Micro-Credential program.  The program serves to identify and recognize educators in their commitment to teaching STEM and integrating strategies that ultimately prepare students for success in the 21st century.  The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network supports the Micro-Credential program and we look forward to a statewide launch in the 2019-2020 school year.  Check our website this summer to learn more.


In 2018, the Network expanded our school online curriculum offerings by partnering with Everfi to provide the Endeavor course for all middle schools in the state at no cost. Endeavor exposes students to STEM careers through interactive modules and a career assessment inventory tool. Educators can register for a free account for their classroom.

Continuing Opportunities for Network Engagement:

Learning Blade

We are pleased to continue to provide targeted schools with Learning Blade, a supplemental online STEM career awareness program and is available for targeted Tennessee’s middle schools across the state.  Learning Blade is designed to provide engaging resources that will expose students to STEM related career opportunities and help them develop key skills as they progress through middle school into high school.

Tennessee STEM School Designation

In May 2018, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) awarded the first Tennessee’s STEM School Designations to fifteen schools located across our state.  The STEM School Designation process enables the TDOE to recognize self-nominating schools for their use of STEM strategies and design principles that lead to quality learning experiences for students. The designation rubric also serves as a roadmap to guide schools to successfully implement a STEM education plan. To learn more about this process or review the rubric visit the STEM Designation section of our website.

School Site Visits

There is no better way to learn new teaching and learning strategies than to see STEM in action.  We have partnered with STEM designated schools across the state to arrange guided tours on specific dates.  On January 23rd, we are providing an exciting opportunity to visit the STEM Designated Schools in Sumner County and network with the school principals. Registration is required.

Innovative Leaders Institute

This year, we will launch the sixth cohort of the Innovative Leaders Institute (ILI)! The ILI is a year-long training and mentoring experience for educators led by some of the top STEM and innovative school leaders in our state. The ILI provides participants opportunities to network with other building-level leaders from across Tennessee, visit innovative schools to examine different models of STEM integration, and share best practices and resources with the expectation of having an immediate impact on leader practice. Almost 165 leaders have completed the ILI to date! Plan your team and mark your calendar: we plan to open recruitment and accept applications for the 2019-2020 ILI in May! To learn more about the TASL approved ILI, click here.

Rural STEM Collaborative

This past year our Network launched the second cohort of The Tennessee Rural STEM Collaborative, a year-long cohort of educators from across Tennessee that works towards ensuring that all students have access to high-quality learning opportunities in STEM by exposing them to 21st Century Skills and local STEM career pathways.  All educators in the program are provided a stipend to implement a targeted STEM initiative in their school or district.  Applications for the third Rural Collaborative Cohort will open in May!

Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit

We are excited to announce Steve Spangler as our keynote speaker for the fifth annual STEM Innovation Summit on May 14 & 15 in Nashville!  The Summit brings together leaders, innovators, and champions from across the state that are united by a passion to advance excellence in STEM education for all Tennesseans. It is vital that our classrooms connect young people to the knowledge and practices that inspire creative thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers that prepare them to accept the responsibilities of global citizenship in an ever-changing world.  Early Bird Summit registration closes at the end of January!


MakerMinded is a statewide competition geared toward using STEM activities to reshape existing mindsets about advanced manufacturing careers.  The program is open to middle and high schools and provides schools with an amazing inventory of quality STEM programs that are engaging for students.  To learn more about MakerMinded, click here.

Innovative Educator Workshops: Professional Development

The network’s 7 Regional STEM Innovation Hubs are committed to giving educators the resources and skills they need to expand STEM learning both inside and outside of the classroom.  Each regional hub will be offering workshops this summer, in addition to opportunities to connect during regional meetings over the coming months.  Visit our website to connect with your regional hub.

We are excited to continue partnership with you this year and hope you will join us for a celebration of STEM in Tennessee at the Innovation Summit in May!

-Sandy Watkins, Director, TSIN

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