The North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) held the first day of their Fall Planning and Work Session at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter on Tuesday, September 29. Session activities took place at Wake Forest Biotech Place and Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter within 525@vine.
The day focused on the theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and its role in preparing students for post-secondary education and future careers, as well as the positive impact that STEM skills and positions have on North Carolina communities.
Bill Cobey, chairman of the State Board of Education, called the session to order in the atrium of Biotech Place. “We always have a focus on innovation,” Cobey said, “and one of the legs of innovation is a STEM education.”
Eric Tomlinson, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, welcomed attendees during the session’s opening remarks. “We are dedicated to innovation, to translating ideas, discoveries and assets into something valuable,” says Tomlinson. “This makes the Innovation Quarter the perfect backdrop for discussions encouraging science and technology education.”
The State Board of Education members participated in a variety of sessions and activities, including demonstrations of project-based teaching and discussions of STEM connections to careers and higher education. Forsyth Technical Community College invited attendees to its wet laboratory facility to meet students pursuing post-secondary education in advanced technologies.
Gary Green, president of Forsyth Tech, invited board members and other guests to speak with students who participate in project-based learning at the community college to prepare them for careers in nanotechnology. “This is the future of North Carolina,” Green said.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory joined the educators to interact with nanotechnology students from Forsyth Tech, addressing their role as future scientists and innovators. “There is a skills gap right now in our state,” McCrory said. “We count on [students] like these and need more like them.”
McCrory recalled having passed through the area that is now the Innovation Quarter several years ago before development started and noted the remarkable transformation of the area. “This is true visionary leadership,” he said.