Introducing “A Series on STEM & STEAM”

| Shelley Stern Grach


In March 2014, the City of Chicago released its Citywide STEM Strategy, arguably one of the most important initiatives that can positively affect the lives of our children. Too often, the lack of access to technology and tech skills, leads to an “opportunity divide”, thereby preventing young people from productive careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. Research shows that there will be approximately 450,000 STEM related jobs in Cook County by 2018. We are already late in preparing our children and young adults with the essential skills they need to be successful in 21st century careers.

Let’s not have Chicago be “a tale of two cities”. Let’s support the Citywide STEM strategy to ensure our children’s future and the continued growth of Chicago as a world class city and a center of innovation and technology. This takes everyone rowing together in the boat…educators, parents, students, community leaders, large and small businesses…to help all of our children embrace and enjoy the benefits of technology.

Join Microsoft Chicago, and me, for a series of dialogs (right here on the blog!) focusing on ways to support the Citywide STEM Strategy. We will discuss virtually and in person, how we, as a community, can help our educators, parents and students reach their full potential. On our blog, we will be discussing various approaches to accelerate technology access and skills across Chicago. Starting in a few weeks, we will explore the following areas:

  • How to “demystify STEM” and make STEM more understandable to families who have not have experiences with technology.
  • What’s the difference between STEM and STEAM? STEAM puts “ARTS” into STEM, thereby infusing the creative aspect of education into technology. Developing student skills in the visual arts, dance, and music complement the development of Math and Science skills.
  • We will shine a spotlight on Early College STEM Schools program. What have we learned? How can we expand this focus?
  • How can parents get engaged with their families on embracing and accelerating technology skills? How can we support families who don’t currently have access to technology at home? What are the resources available in Chicago to address this key issue?

To learn more about Microsoft Chicago, be sure to follow us on Twitter @MSFTChicago!

Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.