STEM Education Leadership Institute

In response to the challenge of increasing literacy in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Washington State LASER developed the STEM Education Leadership Institute. This week-long residential experience is an event designed to prepare schools, school districts or regional teams to develop STEM-focused efforts. With the adoption of the 2013 Washington State Science Learning Standards (or WSSLS, formerly Next Generation Science Standards) educators statewide need support to make the changes implicit in WSSLS.

The Institute also provides a roadmap with multiple routes by which K-12 schools in Washington can address the top recommendations of both HB1872, and the 2010 STEM Work Group report to the Governor and State Legislature. The report made the following recommendations for the 2010-2020 decade:

  • Improve the teaching of STEM throughout K-12.
  • Establish a deep and sustained commitment to STEM innovation throughout K-12.
  • Ensure strong community and business engagement for STEM education.

The 2017 STEM Leadership Institute application period is now open. The link to the application and additional information is below under the Application Form tab. If you have any additional questions email:

Questions about the STEM Education Leadership Institute?
You can watch a recording of our webinar on January 9 here:

Scholarships Now Available!
Washington State LASER is pleased to announce additional support, generously provided by Boeing, for selected teams. Teams that meet any of the following criteria are eligible for a competitive registration scholarship of up to $4,000 to defray team registration fee of $6000.

Eligible teams may:

  • Serve rural regions
  • Represent small schools
  • Serve a significant population of high-need students such as (migrant, ESL, tribal, free and reduced lunch, etc.)
  • Be geographically distant from or need assistance traveling to Lynnwood, WA

To be eligible for the scholarship, indicate your interest during the Institute application. We will ask you to explain your need in a supplemental application.

This PDF has answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the Institute: STEM Institute FAQ’s

Institute Overview

Washington State LASER believes that to reach the education and employment goals articulated by HB1872 and Governor Inslee requires a coherent, system-wide effort that begins at the earliest grades and coherently and effectively connects a high-quality grade school STEM program to strong efforts at the secondary level heading to well-prepared K-12 students entering post-secondary education and the workforce.

At the Institute, participants will hear about national and state work on STEM education. We are excited to have the following speakers and presenters confirmed:

Jeanne Rose Century
Director of Science Education, Outlier Research and Evaluation
University of Chicago

Jeanne will share research and best practices regarding the impact of inquiry science instruction, STEM schools and computer science education.

After participating in the LASER STEM Education Institute, participants will have the skills to translate Institute learning experiences into an Action Plan that:

  • Reflects their commitment to STEM education by choosing a STEM education pathway to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning opportunities for all students.
  • Shows the team’s understanding of the context in which they work (local, state and national) by setting goals and identifying the critical issues associated with these goals.
  • Leverages prior efforts to: build students’ abilities, understandings, skills and habits of mind in the areas of inquiry, problem-solving, and design; improve achievement, college and work readiness; and demonstrate the connections between academic learning and the world beyond the classroom.
  • Meaningfully integrates the current national Common Core Standards in Mathematics, English Language Arts, National Education Technology Standards, and the 2013 Washington State Science Learning Standards (NGSS).
  • Uses current education research and strategies to design highly effective STEM education programs.
  • Applies strategies for building awareness if a shared vision for STEM learning and teaching with all formal and informal stakeholders.
  • Incorporates a plan to evaluate/provide feedback for continuous improvement.

The Institute program is designed for schools, school districts, or regional teams. We realize that every team will be at a different stage of readiness for the Institute experience. Your completed application will help us address your specific needs.

The Institute is a partnership between Washington State LASER, the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with major funding from The Boeing Company.

Dates/Location/Fees/Clock Hours

Planning for the 2018 STEM Education Leadership Institute is underway. Information will be posted when it becomes available.

Leadership Teams

Teams are made up of five people (exceptions can be made for smaller districts, please contact us to discuss this). The Team Lead should be an administrator or teachers leader that has decision-making authority.

The following criteria will be used by a screening committee to select STEM education leadership teams. As you put your team together, keep in mind that they will be looking for:

  • Evidence of a leadership team with skills, commitment and credibility to lead a STEM education effort.
  • Each team should include:
    • An administrative lead with financial decision-making authority (e.g. building principal, district administrator, regional administrator).
    • Experienced teacher leaders from the STEM subject areas and representatives for the school, school district, consortium or region.
    • We highly encourage each team to have a community member join them on Monday and Tuesday. The community member cost is $300 (in addition to the fee for teams) and will be given one nights accomodation, meals and all materials. They will also have the opportunity to be a part of our STEM Explosion. Teams with a strong community partnership that would like to have their community partner stay the whole week can have them as a member of their five person team or they can be added for the whole week.
  • Applications clearly communicate their school, school district, consortium or region’s willingness to:
    • Attend
    • Fully participate
    • Develop and
    • Implement a STEM Education Action Plan

“We are so impressed with the work [our school] has accomplished in one year [after the Institute].  They truly are changing the lives of their poverty students by providing these opportunities.”
-Erika Doyle, Richland School District

During the STEM Institute we ask the educators in attendance for feedback on individual sessions and the Institute overall.  Below is a sampling of the feedback we received on the impact the Institute had on participants and what they learned from the sessions.

About the Institute:

  • I learned so much this week. Several people on my team commented that this was the best professional learning they have ever had since becoming a teacher! I agree–it was so packed with multiple things to consider when developing a comprehensive and actionable plan. It also really opened my eyes to the equity piece and how it really is about differentiating all instruction so that every student has the opportunity to access the learning and as a result…the opportunity to pursue STEM-related careers. Thank you for the opportunity! I believe that we will have a different perspective as we move forward with our plan.
  • I really appreciate all the support from everyone at the institute and making things run smoothly. Sometimes training’s can stall for a long time making them boring, I appreciate the pacing and knowing that we have a lot of work to do so we need to get it done.
  • STEM is all around them and that you can have a STEM career no matter your nationality, gender, income, or language. There are many ways to have a STEM career.
  • Through the STEM explosion, the STEM in a bag activity and other presenters. This week has broadened my views on what is a STEM career.

Individual Sessions:

STEM Explosion:

  • Relevant, real world applications for students

Change Game:

  • At first I was confused about this game but after playing it I realized what valuable lessons I learned through play! As my team was working on our school’s plan we were able to use the knowledge we gleaned from the game to help us write our school plan and next steps. I love what I learned through this game!


  • It was very interesting to see how I can make things equitable for all of my students. I learned other aspects of being equitable that I had never considered.

Incorporating an Engineering Design Process:

  • This was incredibly powerful and began to truly expand our thoughts on how we can effectively bring STEM-related activities into our school.
  • This activity was enriching and I would use it in my classroom. It was realistic.

Boeing Tour:

  • What an unbelievable experience-true incorporation of STEM
  • It was fascinating to see engineering in action! It was amazing to see all the different things happening at once and I saw great opportunity for addressing so many concepts and ideas just from the tour.

Equity Panel:

  • I believe it was very powerful, and it’s a topic that needs to be discussed and tackled. It is an uncomfortable topic for many, but it is an issue that we need to face and improve.

What Do We Know About STEM Schools?

  • It was enlightening to see the research behind STEM schools which makes me more excited about teaching at a STEM school.

Transforming Engineering Education:

  • I could have listened to Dr. McMahon all day long! She was amazing. I would like the time to pick her brain.
  • I will apply so much of this session to my classroom. The idea that I need to “formulate design challenges that require user input”, so as to throw my kids an occasional “curveball” to model real-world engineering design challenges.

The Growing Landscape of Computer Science in STEM:

  • This session was very helpful because explaining how technology fits into STEM can be difficult to explain. This session offered a way to consider using computer science as one of those ways.
  • I was very excited to see how important “computer science” is to STEM. I plan to try coding with my students and be an advocate in my schools and home for computer programming and coding programs.