WARSAW, Ind., March 3, 2014 –
OrthoWorx announced today that it is supporting a major initiative to enable all schools in Kosciusko County to implement Project Lead The Way’s STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum in grades K-12.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nationally known STEM education non-profit organization, recently offered five northern Indiana counties an opportunity to have local funds for PLTW implementation matched by a national funder. Under the program, Project Lead The Way would provide its project-based learning curriculum to schools, train teachers and provide materials and ongoing support for educators related to STEM. The Orthopedics Capital Foundation, which provides philanthropic funding for educational and charitable aspects of OrthoWorx initiatives, and the Kosciusko County Community Foundation agreed to provide the Kosciusko County match. All schools in the county will be given the opportunity to implement new PLTW programs under the initiative.
“Project Lead The Way is a known leader in STEM and this is a tremendous opportunity to build on our existing emphasis on STEM and project-based learning in our region,” said Sheryl Conley, OrthoWorx President and CEO. “We believe, as they do, getting kids engaged in ways that are relevant to them is a key to the prospect for long-term student success—especially in math and science, which is critical for our region. Almost every job in the orthopedics industry today is a STEM job, and the same is true of many other life sciences industries critical to our region such as agriculture and health care.”
In May 2013, OrthoWorx announced that it would support a second year of STEM-focused learning at the Washington Elementary STEM Academy within the Warsaw Community Schools. Through the Orthopedics Capital Foundation, OrthoWorx also committed $300,000 toward the school corporation’s Moving STEM Forward plan, which will provide a strategic roadmap for STEM education through all grades and will help create a STEM Mobile Learning Laboratory that will be used by all the corporation’s schools.
Funding for the Project Lead The Way implementation in Kosciusko County could total as much as $275,000 over a three-year period, depending on how many schools elect to implement the program. Kosciusko County Community Foundation will provide $10,000 to support a significant educational effort in the county. The Orthopedics Capital Foundation will provide the balance of the funds.
“Project Lead The Way courses prepare students for a wide variety of career and educational options, not just for four-year colleges,” said Conley. “We see that as completely aligned with our dual objectives in education—to provide a pipeline of talent prepared for and interested in working in an orthopedic company, as well as providing a distinctive offering that will appeal to families being recruited for employment in our industry. We look forward to developing a partnership with Project Lead The Way that further exposes our schools and their students to incredible intellectual capital that resides in our industry and our university members.”
PLTW recently announced that Northern Indiana was selected to become a model region for PLTW, providing all K-12 schools, both public and private, in a five-county area with the opportunity to implement PLTW’s rigorous, world-class STEM programs in engineering, biomedical science, and computer science. The partnership creates a $4.4 million matching grant pilot program to offset startup costs associated with teacher training, participation fees, and required equipment and will be available to schools for the 2014-15 school year through 2016. Schools in the five-county area of Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph may begin applying for grant funds immediately. Applications for the 2014-15 academic year are due March 31, and schools will be accepted and notified in April.
STEM jobs are growing at a rate of 18 percent, nearly twice the rate of other fields. By 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates 1.2 million unfilled jobs in STEM fields due to a widening skills gap. In Indiana, 123,000 new STEM jobs will exist by 2018, the majority of which will be computer and mathematical scientists, engineers, and engineering technicians. STEM jobs are among the country’s highest paying jobs.
Formed in 2009 with initial funding from the Lilly Endowment for the Orthopedics Capital Foundation, the OrthoWorx (www.orthoworxindiana.com) initiatives feature community-based strategic collaborations with the orthopedic industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the Warsaw region continues to reap the social and economic benefits that derive from its position as The Orthopedic Capital of the World.®