STEM West: New Opportunities February 14th, 2022

For Those Interested

in STEM Education! 

NASA Connections Workshop:

Open to STEM West LEA Partners!

Sign up for a half day workshop to learn how to connect NASA to middle school science. Limited to 15 teachers per workshop (Alexander, Burke & NC School for the Deaf, Caldwell, Catawba & Newton-Conover City Schools, McDowell, and Polk). $100 stipend for participation.

Tues. 6/28 – 6th grade teachers

Wed. 6/29 – 7th grade teachers

Thurs. 6/30 – 8th grade teachers

Sign Up HERE!

Questions can be addressed to [email protected].

If you would like to sign up for our newsletter, find a link on our website here:

NCDPI Partners with Microsoft & Prodigy Learning to Offer ‘Coding in Minecraft’ to Middle School Students

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction announced today a collaboration with Microsoft and Prodigy Learning to bring the award winning ‘Coding in Minecraft’ credential program to all middle school students across the state over a three-year period. This announcement comes on the heels of State Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s recent launch of her Four Workforce Goals, which is part of a concerted effort to better align the K-12 system with industry needs so that students are prepared post-graduation.

Recently awarded Best Formative Assessment product by the e-Assessment Association, ‘Coding in Minecraft’ is a computer science credential program with supporting curriculum, delivered through Minecraft: Education Edition. The program comprises four courses that immerse students in a Minecraft world to develop and prove their coding skills using MakeCode and JavaScript or Python.

“The partnership with Microsoft and Prodigy Learning provides students with opportunities to learn durable and tactical skills in an engaging and adaptable way for middle school students,” Truitt said. “Exposing students to computer science experiences early in their academic journeys is critical in preparing them for post-graduate success. This type of partnership is exactly what we need to ensure North Carolina’s students are obtaining the certifications and credentials needed for in-demand jobs.”

The highly popular Minecraft video game promotes durable skills such as creativity, collaboration and problem solving in an immersive environment. Minecraft: Education Edition reaches millions of educators and students around the world with standards-based curriculum and game-based learning, including Computer Science.

State-wide availability of ‘Coding in Minecraft’ will give every middle school student in North Carolina an equal opportunity to engage in computer science and achieve credentials aligned to the North Carolina Computer Science Standards, starting pathways to Career and Technical Education, other industry certifications and employment opportunities.

“Having the opportunity to partner with Prodigy to provide even more access to our NC middle school students is truly a step in the right direction,” said Dr. Mary Hemphill, NCDPI’s director of Academic Standards. “As we bolster the pathways for all NC students to be immersed and exposed to computer science in realistic and tangible ways, we are strengthening their knowledge base and opportunities to pursue tech and STEM-related careers in the future.”

The deployment of the program starts with providing access to up to 8,000 students and 200 educators during year one and exposure for every middle school student by year three. In all, the program has the potential to reach nearly 340,000 students and more than 14,000 educators. 

“We are pleased to see that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Prodigy Learning are building tailored experiences that can inspire students with the possibilities of computer science through Minecraft,” said Paige Johnson, vice president of Education Marketing at Microsoft. “North Carolina is harnessing the intrinsic engagement that happens when students play games to teach them the critical skills of computational thinking, coding and computer science. By combining the immersive Minecraft: Education Edition platform with critical curriculum, students will be better prepared for college and career.”

Through this collaboration, a series of “train-the-trainer” workshops will be delivered to educators to provide professional development in Computer Science, Coding, Minecraft: Education Edition and best practices in using the ‘Coding in Minecraft’ curriculum. Accompanying these workshops is a comprehensive support package which will enable educators to implement clear pathways and satisfy the objectives of the K-12 Computer Science initiative.

“Our vision for ‘Coding in Minecraft’ is to break down the barriers for students and educators to increase uptake of computer science in schools,” said Andrew Flood, CEO of Prodigy Learning.

“We are excited that NCDPI has chosen our ‘Coding in Minecraft’ product to meet the objectives of the K-12 Computer Science initiative, offering all middle-school students the opportunity to gain industry-recognised computer science skills.”

The state’s K-12 Computer Science Initiative was enacted to expand computer science opportunities to all NC students. The overall goal of the Computer Science Initiative is to: (1) create and contribute, not just use and consume in the digital economy; (2) actively engage as informed citizens in our complex, tech-driven world. From this initiative the North Carolina Computer Science Standards were formed.

Join Girls Who Code and to learn to code and change the world! As a Girls Who Code Community Partner, STEM West is thrilled to let you know that your application will receive priority consideration when you apply!

  • The 2-week, introductory Summer Immersion Program (SIP) hosts current 9th-11th grade students who identify as girls or non-binary in live virtual classrooms led by industry-leading companies like EA, Pfizer, and ViacomCBS. Students learn to make an impact with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript while getting an inside look into the tech industry. Plus, all SIP students can apply for grants up to $500 for financial support.
  • The Self-Paced Program offers independent study and real-world projects for current 9th-12th graders to earn beginner-level badges in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for web development or an intermediate-level badge in Python for cybersecurity.

Both programs introduce you to inspiring role models in the tech industry. You’ll also get access to exclusive alumni benefits and career support for life, including our Hiring Summit, pre-internship programs, virtual mentoring, and GWC Talks webinars for career tips and strategies.

Programs are available June 17 – August 12. Learn more  on our FAQ  or by joining a  webinar , and  apply here  The early application deadline is February 16, 2022. Regular-decision applications are due by March 18, 2022.

Act now to join a sisterhood that supports you for life!  Remember to select STEM West from the dropdown menu when asked about your Community Partner affiliation on the application. That’s how your application will receive priority consideration!

North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR): The benefits of bioscience. The future of North Carolina.
Applications are being accepted for the virtual summer NIEHS STaRS Experience

Middle and high school science teachers and community college instructors are encouraged to apply for the 2022 NIEHS Science, Teachers and Research Summer (STaRS) Experience. STaRS 2022 is a virtual one-week professional development (PD) program, designed and conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

The goals of the PD are:

  • To enhance participants’ understanding of basic research in the environmental/biomedical sciences; and
  • To enable participants to transfer knowledge received from this program into classroom applications and to better support their students, including those from underserved populations.

The 2022 virtual STaRS Experience will be held online by NIEHS and will be a one-week program. The program will run from Monday, July 11, to Friday, July 15, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. each day. STaRS participants are expected to attend the full one-week program. The program will contain many interactive lessons and activities with special topics relating to COVID-19. STaRS participants will receive a $1,000 stipend to cover their time spent during the program.


  • Applicants must currently teach science in a middle school, high school or community college (Out-of-state educators are encouraged to apply); and
  • Applicants must be available and fully engaged for the full one-week program (July 11-15)

Women and individuals of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Apply Now →

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 25, 2022.

Featuring activities in SCRATCH
the children’s programming language from MIT.

K-5 children and a parent or guardian, join us online.

FEB. 16, 6PM ET | 3PM PT — FEB. 28, 9PM ET | 6PM PT


Activities that help children and parents pair up for a fun introduction to coding!

Elementary Computing for ALL
CS is Elementary and Family Code Night
In Partnership with

Infosys Foundation USA Pathfinders Online Institute

The Newest Event from Family Code Night!

Family Cyber Safety Night

Family learning that makes you safer.

Play to Learn!

K-5 children and a parent or guardian, join us online.

FEB. 15, 6PM ET | 3PM PT  ***  FEB. 22, 9PM ET | 6PM PT


How can your family be safe online? By knowing how!

That’s what you and your K-5 children will learn at this free, one-hour Livestream event. Full of fun family activities!
Just look at what you and your children will learn about:


Fooling you to get your personal information.


Codes used to protect our online information.


A secret string of characters to keep your accounts private.


“Personally Identifiable Information” – Facts about yourself you should keep private.

PLUS: Every Participating Family Creates Its Own Family Cyber Safety Plan

CS is Elementary and Family Code Night
In Partnership with

Infosys Foundation USA Pathfinders Online Institute

global warmingGlobal Climate Educator Resources

Last month, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that 2021 was tied with 2018 as the sixth warmest year on record. Collectively, the past eight years are the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880. To increase awareness and interest in climate science, NASA has developed a series of educator resources for all grades:

And don’t forget to check out the Sally Ride EarthKAM Mission (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is a free STEM educational program managed by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  EarthKAM allows students to take images of Earth from space using a camera aboard the International Space Station. EarthKAM is a free teaching tool to study subjects ranging from geography to art to meteorology. Visit the website for details and to register to participate.


Upcoming Programs for

6-12th Grade Audiences (Virtual)

with the North Carolina Zoo

Virtual – Living with Nature
Living with Nature is our free distance learning event series available to schools and home school groups. Recommended ages middle school-high school. These 30-minute programs allow students and teachers to submit questions to our experts during the event. Two events left for the spring:

  • Animal Behavior and Biology – March 2, 2022 at 10:00-10:30 am
  • Segment 1: The North Carolina Zoo has several habitats that put different species together. Join the Living with Nature Live! event to meet a zookeeper and the animals under their care to uncover some of the challenges and rewards of setting complex habitats like this up for the animals. Segment 2: Zoo staff work together to conduct research to determine how the animals are behaving and using their habitats. The Living with Nature Live! event will dive into how these research projects are created and meet one of the current intern researchers.


  • International Conservation – May 4, 2022 at 10:00-10:30 am
  • Through the International Conservation portion of our Living With Nature Live! events, our goal is to show middle and high school students the many ways we work to conserve. This year we will be highlighting our work to reduce Human Wildlife Conflict through two projects SMART and UNITE


Hope you will join us.

Beth Folta, Ph.D.
Curator of Education
Conservation, Education and Science
North Carolina Zoo
336.879.7713 Office
[email protected]
Pronouns she/her

4401 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, NC 27205


K-12 Science


Upcoming Office Hours Webinar

Wednesday, February 16 (3:30-4:30)

K-12 Science Office Hour: NC Check Ins (NCCI) for K-12 Science

Office Hours

Join us for our next K-12 Science Office Hour Session on February 16, 2022 from 3:30-4:30 where our topic will be the Science NC Check-ins (NCCI). NCDPI Test Measurement Specialists will provide an overview and information about interpreting the NCCI reports for 5th and 8th grades and Biology. The intended audience includes: science curriculum specialists, teachers, and administrators.

You can register at  the Professional Learning page for the K-12 Science Team on the NCDPI website.  You can also register at the WebEx Event Registration page.

Join the Million Girls Moonshot Flight Crew!
There are still 3 weeks left to join Million Girls Moonshot’s inaugural Flight Crew!
The Flight Crew is a cohort of youth advocates, ages 13-18, who are committed to creating equity for girls in STEM by elevating youth voices and inspiring future STEM leaders. We are looking for young scientists, engineers, inventors, builders, and leaders who have been inspired by their experiences outside of the school classroom. Flight Crew members will participate in six months of virtual programming where they will hone their leadership and advocacy skills using their own experiences from afterschool STEM learning. Those selected will be eligible for a $1,000 stipend, an all-expense-paid trip to the annual Million Girls Moonshot summer 2022 event, and thanks to our partners, an all-expense-paid opportunity to go to Space Camp for summer 2023.
The Flight Crew application is open to youth ages 13 to 18 who identify as female, gender-expansive, or outside of the identity of cis-gender male. Applicants will share their views in a written, video, or art piece. Applications are due February 25, 2022. Apply here
The Afterschool Alliance is running the Flight Crew program for Million Girls Moonshot, whose mission is to engage one million girls in STEM learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programs.
Join the Flight Crew
Questions about joining the Million Girls Moonshot Flight Crew? Reach out to Leah Silverberg at [email protected].
Afterschool Alliance, 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 700, Washington D.C. 20005

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Weekly Updates for New Learning Opportunities for Educators & Youth

Check out the new website with a few new features:

  1. Initiatives linked with articles
  2. Weekly posts for students and teacher STEM learning opportunities
  3. New Resource Links: Virtual Field trips/STEM Career videos and resources
  4. Donations can now be made online

About STEM West

STEM West ( is a STEM education non-profit located in Hickory, NC that serves 6 counties and 8 LEAs across the Western North Carolina Region. STEM West’s mission is to advocate and support the alignment of educational and occupational objectives through the regional workforce and community partnerships. STEM West’s passion for its students, workforce, and community helps it promote equitable STEM access for ALL.




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