Best Practices
August 30, 2010

First in Powered Flight, Dayton is Championing STEM Education

Dayton Ohio has always been a major hub for industrial, aerospace, and technological/engineering research, especially since the Wright brothers first invented powered flight in 1903. Today, Dayton’s reputation has not changed as it continues to encourage the next generation to produce scientific and technological innovations.

The best way to encourage students to explore careers in aviation and engineering is to expose them early on to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in their schools. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is particularly taking a lead role in STEM education with their support and guidance of the Dayton Regional STEM School.

Guided by the mantra “Explore the Real World in a Real School,” the school operates independent from any Ohio public school district with the goal of, “[preparing] students with the skills necessary to compete in the global economy while nurturing in our young people the same enthusiasm for discovery, invention, and application that launched the vision for powered flight.”

Served by a faculty and staff of 20, the Dayton Regional STEM School currently serves 8th, 9th, and 10th grade students in the Dayton region with a variety of curricular requirements. At full capacity, the school will serve 600 students in grades 6th-12th. 

Students are required to complete 24 credits in all areas of study (including mathematics, social studies, laboratory sciences, fine art, physical education, and a foreign language) to ensure they receive a balanced education that encourages a passion for STEM subjects while giving them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed after graduating.  By participating in hands-on experiments and projects at Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Research Laboratory, students are consistently shown how their lessons apply to real world situations.

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has seen this school evolve from its inception. In 2008, STEM school sponsor, Wright State University, and members of the Dayton Area Chamber formed a grant-writing and school-start-up committee that helped the school find the resources it needed to operate. The school opened in 2009 and has now entered its second full school year.

STEM school staff, the Board and Wright State University are currently seeking funding from the business community to construct a state of the art permanent facility to house the school.  Additionally, Chris Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development at the Dayton Area Chamber, sits on the board of directors and helps guide the school in its pursuit of its mission statement. The chamber’s heavy involvement stems from a simple concept: a talented and skilled and workforce will make the Dayton region more attractive to private businesses and the economy will grow.

The chamber’s investment in the school encourages the business community to get involved as well, initiating a cycle of corporate investment that will ultimately help the business community’s bottom lines.

“The Dayton Regional STEM School is educating and training a workforce that is going to fill the high demand jobs of the future in the Dayton region,” said Chris Kershner.  “This school is a one-of-a-kind asset that is directly addressing the workforce needs of our business community.”

Learn more about the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Dayton Regional STEM School.