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Campus Engagement in Our Unit

Strategic Program Planning to Strengthen STEAM Education

STEAM experts and leaders join forces to better serve our local educators and citizens.

In March, University of Illinois Extension, in collaboration with Illinois Informatics Institute and Champaign-Urbana Fab Lab convened a half-day workshop at the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum that brought together experts and leaders in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) teaching and learning to share their ideas and recommendations for strengthening STEAM education throughout the Greater Peoria region. More than 30 individuals, representing a wide range of expertise, contributed to the plan.

Engaging in STEAM educational activities provides youth with opportunities to foster critical thinking skills and inspires them to engage in innovative learning experiences, which also help:

  • Improve high school graduation rates.
  • Develop creative problem-solving skill sets among our future workforce
  • Develop collaborative skill sets among our youth.

Goals set forth through the planning process largely focus on strategies that will leverage and strengthen our ‘communities of practice.’ Building a truly engaged community of practice will draw upon the knowledge, tools, resources, and expertise of many to create rich STEAM teaching and learning experiences, in and outside formal school settings.

GOAL 1: Build an engaged and networked community of practice focused on STEAM education

GOAL 2: Develop a social marketing campaign –highlighting the relevance and value of STEAM education for our region

GOAL 3: Expand volunteer engagement in STEAM educational programming

The priority to support STEAM education is reflected in numerous programming and outreach efforts within the Greater Peoria region. The planning group acknowledged that developing and achieving a forward-thinking approach to STEAM education is a complex and evolving task.

The group expects and trusts that the vision described in the report will be revised and refined as new knowledge, evidence, and experiences are gained in the process of pursuing these goals.

STEAM Strategic Planning Report

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As a community and economic development educator, Kathie Brown worked with community leaders, government officials, volunteer groups, small business owners, and others to help communities become stronger and more economically viable. She focused on leadership and organizational development; local government education and relations; economic development strategies; participatory community planning/visioning processes; group process facilitation; collaboration and partnership building; public issue education; and understanding, using and developing data.

Prior to retirement in 2021, Brown worked with organizations and local governments to help them: (1) analyze and understand their needs, (2) identify alternative courses of action, (3) make informed decisions, (4) plan for the future and (5) evaluate their development efforts.

Kathie worked for Extension for almost 40 years, contributing to programs related to community health, digital literacy, STEAM education, and more.