OMAR — West Virginia employers acknowledge that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are critical for highly educated workers, as well as professions that do not require a college degree. Over the next several years, West Virginia is projecting to have 25,000 jobs in STEM-related fields. Workers in STEM occupations use science and math to drive our state’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries.

The math night at Omar is part of a larger effort by The Education Alliance, called Energizing steM, designed to help young students build a strong foundation in math and engage older students and their families and community members by raising awareness of STEM careers. The Energizing steM project is offered through a major grant from the American Electric Power Foundation designed to strengthen STEM education.

On Nov. 19, Omar Elementary School hosted a Community Math Night designed to allow family and community members to explore content, activities, and games that support math learning in fun ways. The event allowed families the opportunity to develop and enhance their own math knowledge so they may support their students’ learning and education.

“Omar Elementary recognizes the importance of developing a strong foundation in mathematics as the center of our STEM education program,” said Martha Curry, principal of Omar Elementary School. “The math night was a great way to enhance public understanding of the need for STEM, build STEM career awareness, and provide a specific focus on the critical role of building strong math skills.”

Through this project, Omar received coaching and support from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia to design activities align with the West Virginia Department of Education’s college and career readiness standards for math. The project also provides 2,200 elementary students in Lincoln and Logan counties with an effective computer-based supplemental curriculum to improve math outcomes.

For more information about the Energizing steM Education initiative, visit EducationAlliance.org/Energizing-STEM, or contact Emily Pratt at 304-342-7849 or emily@educationalliance.org.

Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.