More than 700 teachers, business owners, and lawmakers from across California have been in Sacramento for the past two days. They are meeting with the goal of increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or STEM classes offered in the state.
There are two conferences going on at the same time.
Project Lead The Way is a non-profit group that provides STEM curriculum for kids of all ages. The organization is hosting a statewide conference.
The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce is hosting a local event. Dave Butler with the Chamber's education advocacy arm called NextEd says the Chamber is working to get more state funding for STEM programs.
"Project Lead The Way was established in California about ten years ago," says Butler. "But, it's grown exponentially since then. It started with about ten programs in our region. Now we have over 70 throughout the six counties. So, it's just grown like wildfire, because it works."
Annie Clegg teaches at Antelope High School in Sacramento and is the Project Lead The Way biomedical teacher of the year. She says the STEM program brings benefits beyond math and science.
"Students learn to advocate for themselves, they're effective communicators, and they're problem solvers," says Clegg. "That's what our workforce needs and that's what our world needs -students who are able to solve problems."
Attendees have made it a priority to increase the number of girls who take science and math classes. The Chamber says about one-third of STEM students are female.