Future of U.P. STEM Centers up in the air

MARQUETTE — The future of STEM related programs for K-12 students across the state could soon change based on recommendations by the Michigan Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (MiSTEM) Council.

The MiSTEM council’s report recommends what’s being called a restructuring of the state’s 33 STEM centers and reducing that number to 10. The Upper Peninsula has a total of five STEM Centers, including the Seaborg Center at Northern Michigan University.

The restructuring plan could leave the U.P. with just one STEM Center. Chris Standerford, the director of the Seaborg Center, says a reduction in the number of Centers would be a loss of direct services for local school districts across the U.P.

“Restructuring is really going to limit the services that we can provide,” said Standerford. “I like to describe it as the ecosystem. Public education has many different partners working together to offer what we can with the funding that we have. To eliminate one whole section of that ecosystem- the impact of the Math and Science Centers- is going to be huge,” he added.

The Michigan Math and Science Centers Network has served nearly 3 million students and 500,000 educators since 2000. The Seaborg Center alone has provided over 400 STEM related events to students in the last six years.