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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Finger Lakes STEM Hub?

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub (“the Hub”) is the regional arm of the Empire State STEM Learning Network (Empire STEM) a statewide, community‐led collaborative advancing STEM education to prepare all students across New York State for success in school, work and life.  The Hub is our local network of STEM leaders from higher education, K-12, business, government and community organizations working together to leverage resources, create best practices and build awareness for and about STEM education efforts in our area.  The Finger Lakes Hub covers a nine-county area:  Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates Counties.


2. What is STEM?

STEM is more than an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  It is also shorthand for the interdisciplinary, hands-on, “real world” educational experience that provides skills to succeed in the 21st century economy.


3. What is the Empire State STEM Learning Network?

The Empire State STEM Learning Network (“Empire STEM”) is a statewide, community‐led collaborative advancing STEM education to prepare all students across New York State for success in school, work and life.  Empire STEM’s belief is that local communities working together across the state have the greatest power to effect transformative change in education, particularly in STEM. The most innovative approaches are created and implemented locally in classrooms, schools and programs. A connected set of regional hubs and partners are beginning to work together more efficiently to identify, test, validate, share and advance promising and innovative STEM teaching and learning programs, practices, policies, platforms and partnerships.  They share three high level goals: to increase student achievement in STEM, expand access to high quality STEM teaching, and communicate and advocate for STEM.  These goals are also shared by a growing national community of state STEM networks that collaborates with Empire STEM to accelerate mutual progress.  The STEM Learning Network has been divided into 10 Regional Hubs.


4. Why is STEM so important?

 STEM is a key economic driver in the 21st century. STEM literacy and the related skills of critical thinking, working collaboratively, and problem solving are important in STEM careers as well as in virtually every industry sector in the knowledge-based, globalized economy.


5. There are a lot of groups focused on STEM.  What makes you different?

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub is a local network of committed stakeholders—business, pre-Kindergarten through higher education, government, community organizations, and foundations.  We will connect the people and organizations already working to promote STEM learning and lend our support to strengthen their offerings and extend their reach within the community.  Our goal is to create a “best practices” approach to STEM learning in our area.


6. What does the Finger Lakes STEM Hub hope to accomplish?

The goals for the Finger Lakes STEM Hub fall into three categories: professional learning, student impact and community awareness and involvement. 


Professional learning: we will provide STEM educators with tools to ensure they are fully equipped and confident in their abilities to prepare their students for college and careers.

We are working with the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS) to develop a day of professional development for elementary teachers, in conjunction with their annual conference, which takes place in Rochester on November 3 – 6, 2012.


Student impact: We will identify and promote STEM activities and events that are engaging, exciting, and empowering for students.  On our website we have a calendar of events.  We hope it will become a “go-to” site for what’s happening in the area of STEM locally.  We’ll also promote events through social media to reach students.

Planning is underway for a showcase of student-made videos about STEM to be available for public viewing through the Finger Lakes STEM Hub website. Information about the video requirements will be on the website in the Fall of 2012.


Community awareness and involvement: We want to get everyone involved in STEM connected - talking to each other to share information and aligning our work and our programs toward an overall goal of life and workforce preparedness. 

We will start by engaging organizations that provide informal STEM learning opportunities out of school, such as museums, camps and clubs. We will bring these efforts together to share best practices and collaborate on publicity around a common theme. Examples of great programs include FIRST Robotics, Xerox Science Consultants, the Green Machine Mobile lab from Monroe 1 BOCES, the Elementary Science Program from Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES; hands-on science learning activities at the RMSC, etc. 


7. What about other STEM programs?  How do they work with the Finger Lakes STEM Hub?

All are welcome who support Empire STEM’s mission and vision, and who are willing to openly collaborate.  It is valuable to learn from experience, to discuss what’s working and what‘s not. By bringing people together with the same goal in mind we hope to spur innovation and improve quality of programming as a result of synergy, collaboration and a diverse group of people openly sharing their different perspectives and resources.


8. Who is involved in the Finger Lakes STEM Hub?

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub member roster includes area businesses, Pre-K‐ grade 20 education, government, and cultural organizations. See attached list of participants.


9. How do I become a member?

We encourage all who are invested in STEM programming in our community to join our network by visiting or email


10. How were champions and/or the core team chosen?

The Rochester Area Colleges’ Center for Excellence in Math and Science and RIT were instrumental in initiating Hub formation in December of 2010, and the initial core team grew as word spread to regional organizations that support STEM education. Champions are influential members of the Rochester and Finger Lakes Region. The STEM Hub Core team is made up of educators, businesspeople, community and concerned citizens who represent many others in the field. (See attached roster).



11. How is the STEM network funded?

Empire STEM is focused on building communities’ capacities by aligning existing investments.
The Finger Lakes STEM Hub and other regional networks rely on our community partners for support. We have received initial support from Xerox, RPI, MCC and Siemens and we continue to seek support from all of our community partners.  The state network, Empire STEM is supported by Battelle, SUNY, RPI, and IBM. 


12. How many other networks are there?

In New York State, the Empire State STEM Learning Network interconnects the Finger Lakes Hub to other communities that are aligned with the state’s ten economic development regions. Empire STEM partners include other statewide networks focused on components of a cradle-to-career system such as the NYS STEM Education Collaborative of the professional associations of teachers of the STEM disciplines, the NYS After-School Network, and others. Empire STEM is located at the State University of New York System in partnership with Battelle, through which it is directly connected to related statewide initiatives and to other state STEM networks.  Information about the Empire State STEM Learning Network can be obtained at this website:



13. Why does every student need STEM education, not just those who are interested in it?

While not every student will pursue a STEM career, effective STEM education challenges students to think critically, collaborate, and solve problems. These skills are important in STEM and non‐STEM careers.  Introducing innovative policies, programs, internship and other hands‐on opportunities provide all students with that “real world” educational experience needed to succeed in the 21st century economy.