When businesses host a STEM fair for high school teachers, great minds and ideas join with innovative products that benefit students.  That’s what happened recently when 45 Oregon Teachers met with engineers and business leaders to learn about various approaches and ideas they could bring to their classrooms.

High school teacher Greg Smith was writing notes on graph paper, looking back and forth to a whiteboard that described a software development process called Scrum.  He was learning about a new way for teams to work together to develop a product within a few weeks.

Businesses Host a STEM Fair

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“You’re supposed to fail, but fail fast,” explained Max Arbow, a product owner for ADP Dealer Services.

Smith, who heads West Salem High School’s robotics team, wants students to use the method to build part of a robot without much hand-holding.

“The idea is how do you break that down? What steps are you going to take to start with?” he asked Arbow.

The four-day training, which ends on Thursday, helps science, technology, engineering and math teachers connect with local business leaders.

“We know students learn better when they can see what the real-world application is so that they don’t ask ‘Why do I need to learn this?’ ” said Melissa Dubois, director of the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership.

The group, which organized the STEM Fair, is made up of businesses, more than a dozen school districts, colleges and other community partners.

Businesses Host a STEM Fair

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Funded through a $600,000 grant from the state, it’s also one of six regional “STEM hubs” in Oregon expected to increase learning opportunities in science, technology engineering and math.

As part of the STEM Fair, teachers were also tasked with creating a lesson plan they will use in classrooms and share with their colleagues.

Google, Silicon Forest Electronics and the Cornell Pump Company, were among the businesses at the fair.

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