A week ago, a delegation of education experts from the country of Columbia visited the office of Amber Bosket, Executive Director of State Renewable Energy, to learn more about the Green STEM Education initiatives she has developed. Amber, a renewable energy and STEM education specialist, showcased some of the award-winning programs she has already done as well as displayed a few of the projects she has in the works. When asked about overall student performance in Nevada, she explained how the State ranks near the bottom in a number of categories, but said there is a lot of potential in the local youth. Nevada’s students struggle significantly with basic skills. Only 26% of Nevada’s students scored proficient or above for math on the National Assessment of Education Progress and only 28% scored proficient or above for reading in 2015. In addition, as a state, Nevada currently ranks 49 out of 50 in the U.S. for education, which was an increase from previous years. When asked about STEM education in her state, Amber shared how there was great student support and there has been much effort put into increasing STEM performance in the state. Amber, who chaired the 2015 Nevada Green Schools STEM Summit, which was a collaborative event supported by over 50 local and national organizations, said that when students are given opportunity, training, and equipment, they can accomplish great things.
One program Amber highlighted during the visit was her 3D printing initiative called Growing Gears. She started this program while working with a local high school, West Career and Technical Academy (West CTA), where she jump started their 3D printing program. The Growing Gears program was designed to increase STEM awareness through computer science, 3D modeling, and 3D printing. One of the aspects of this program was to utilize plant-based plastics that can be recycled and composted. Amber commented that 3D printing opens the doors to many core subjects and increases student interest and participation. She noted that Nevada has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation at just over 73%, however, Nevadan students involved in career and technical education (CTE) programs graduate at over 85% and Nevada's dedicated CTE academies have a nearly 100% graduation rate. West CTA, the number one STEM school in the state and among the top five percent of schools in the nation, presented Amber with the 2017 Community Partnership award for her company's support of their engineering program.
The columbian delegation, who spent the entire week in Las Vegas learning of statewide STEM education initiatives, said that visiting State Renewable Energy to learn more about STEM and 3D printing was one of the highlights of their trip.