Michigan anticipates a shortage of 274,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professionals by 2018. Women receive 60 percent of all post high school degrees but only 28 percent are STEM degrees, according to the State of Michigan. It’s for these reasons and more that the Michigan STEM Partnership exists. The Michigan STEM Partnership is a statewide, nonprofit, public-private collaborative that includes educators, employers, policy-makers and others who are concerned about addressing the current lack of STEM skills in school children and job applicants. In an effort to acknowledge the importance of educating the next generation around STEM careers, Governor Snyder will proclaim October 2014 as STEM Careers Month. “We have issued a challenge to employers all over the state to do one thing to help create awareness around STEM careers,” said Barbara Bolin, Executive Director of Michigan STEM Partnership. “Employers have a major role to play in helping students, parents and teachers understand what goes on in the workplace, and that every job is in some way related to STEM.” Employers will be given a list of options to choose from such as arranging for a class of kids to come to the workplace, give a tour or offer students’ an internship. Bolin explains that employers are important to help students understand the whole world of work because it changes all of the time. Employers don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to invest in the future workforce. “If students know early on that math is important, they will know it will get them to something else. It’s important for students to know what’s out there, what the future holds; and that you don’t have to be Einstein to go into STEM. There is something out there for everyone as long as they know where to look,” explained Bolin. Another way Michigan STEM Partnership is investing in the next generation of STEM professionals is through competitive grants, given statewide, that support a culture of applied learning that is hands-on, cross-disciplinary and project-based. This new approach to education aims at developing skills necessary for the modern workplace. WKAR, the Lansing area PBS affiliate, is a recipient of a $25,000 grant from Michigan STEM Partnership to develop eight television and online shows recorded at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing called “Curious Crew.” The host is Rob Stephenson, National Teacher of the Year finalist, 2009-2010 Michigan Teacher of the Year and principal at East Lansing’s Donley Elementary School. Debuting on Nov. 3, Stephenson, along with a cast of inquisitive eight to 14-year-old students from across mid-Michigan, will take a hands-on approach to scientific exploration. Teachers will have access to online instructions to replicate the experiments and activities featured on the show. “Aligned to the next generation of science standards, this show helps teachers understand what science is within the standards of STEM,” said Bolin. For more information about the Michigan STEM Partnership, visit www.mistempartnership.com.