Lincoln STEM Ecosystem develops its collaborative vision

Lincoln STEM Ecosystem,
Lincoln STEM Ecosystem,

In April, the Lincoln STEM Ecosystem kicked off its newly formed initiative at Duncan Aviation, leading the charge to build successful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) collaborations between education and industry. Since then, the group held a strategic planning session in September with its cross-sector Steering Committee, facilitated by the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, and developed a collaborative mission, vision, and working groups to move forward.

The Steering Committee comprises more than 20 stakeholders from all sectors of the community, and 45 Lincoln businesses and industries have been engaged in discussions. Dr. James Blake of Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) and Bryan Seck of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce are co-chairs of the Lincoln STEM Ecosystem (LNKSE).

“We feel there are already many amazing STEM programs in Lincoln and the LNKSE initiative can move us to a more integrated future,” said Blake, K-12 science curriculum specialist for LPS. “It will also identify gaps and the students who are not being served. Being connected to the Global STEM Ecosystem will open doors for us that individual efforts could not do.”

Lincoln is one of 83 STEM Ecosystems in the nation and has a close relationship with the Ecosystem in Omaha. The federal five-year plan for STEM names “STEM Ecosystems” as the way to maintain leadership in the global economy by getting more students to graduate in the area where the jobs are, Blake said.

From the work of Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, the group developed its collaborative vision: “LNKSE seeks to create conditions where all learners can seize meaningful STEM opportunities resulting in creation of an inclusive and diverse community that is attractive to existing and new residents and businesses.”

“The business community understands that the STEM Ecosystem approach is a short- and long-game effort,” Seck said. “In the long-term, businesses are interested in partnering with preschool, elementary and middle schools as they know that students decide if they are good at math and science at a very young age. The Ecosystem provides the door for businesses to collaboratively work with schools to share their exciting STEM work and careers. In the short term, we can help businesses interact with high schools to share with students about careers immediately out of high school and also those that require further education.”

The effort also will increase student access to quality job shadows through LPS’s Jobs and Extended Learning Opportunities database, which provides information on internships, apprenticeships, and jobs. Business partners include Lincoln Electric System, Tabitha Health, BVH Architecture, Don’t Panic Labs, Duncan Aviation, Cheever Construction, and Associated Builders and Contractors. LNKSE also receives support from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Southeast Community College, and the Woods Charitable Foundation.

Interested parties can sign up on the call to action ( and either indicate interest in being involved in a working group or staying in the loop on activities.

“The power of the ecosystem comes from something greater than the sum of its parts,” Blake said. “We will come together across community, home, schools), libraries, science centers and museums, after-school, business, and higher education.”