April 2019 Newsletter

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Building Omaha’s Future Leaders

April 2019

Celebrating STEM in Omaha

A STEM Professional You Should Know!

Chris Schaben, Ph.D.

Dr. Chris Schaben, is the science supervisor for Omaha Public Schools (OPS), the largest urban district in Nebraska.  Dr. Schaben is a passionate science/STEM education leader who inspires teachers and students. His work as Principal Investigator of several grants has moved his district to a student-centered science program.  His efforts have led to two, OPS student-generated experiments flying aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor STS-134 in the initial Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.  Dr. Schaben applied the lessons learned from this experience to create a Near-Space Students’ Experiments Program in OPS with over 70 high altitude balloon launches to date, directly from OPS schools.  Dr. Schaben is also actively engaged at the regional, state, and national levels.  He is a past president of both the Nebraska Academy of Science and the Metropolitan Science and Engineering Fair.  He is the Advisory Board Chair for the Omaha STEM Ecosystem.  He is Vice President and Co-founder of the Nebraska Junior Academy of Science.  Dr. Schaben has authored multiple science education journal articles, was promoted to Fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in 2017, and is the 2018 National Outstanding Leadership in Science Education awardee from the National Science Education Leadership Association.


Math with an Engineer

Over 12 educators across the Greater Omaha community gathered at Olsson for an interactive evening learning about the application of math in a civil engineering career. Bringing math concepts into real world experiences, helps build a STEM pipeline to career.  Educators, lead by the Olsson team, worked through real problems on various projects such as challenges of building the Joplin Hospital following the tornado and total devastation, Sterling Ridge Development/ water flow management, and transportation/traffic flow.

In partnership with:


Bridging the Gap in the STEM Workforce

Business + Industry + Education

On Tuesday, April 23rd, nearly 70 representatives from 40 organizations met for an interactive workshop on Bridging the Gap in the STEM Workforce.  Dr. Neal Grandgenett commented ” this “roll your sleeves up” facilitated work session, resulted in some excellent ideas on developing strategies for building skills in P16 students for college and career.”  Hosted at Gallup and facilitate by Paige Dempsey, this event included many key Omaha and Nebraska organizations. The evening concluded, when all present signed on, simultaneously, to Linked In, and immediately shared each other’s contact information, in a technology feature that automatically linked people in the room for possible contacts, and wowed many of the participants, on the power of today’s technology to do that instant connectivity. The Professional Development and Training  committee members for the Omaha STEM Ecosystem will take the information gathered and move into the next action steps.  Additional information will be forthcoming.

2019 Midwest Association for Learning Environments Conference

“Building a Model of Public-Private Partnership to Develop STEM Career Pathways”

A team of community partners, on behalf of the Omaha STEM Ecosystem, presented at the Midwest Association for Learning Environments on April 25th at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha.  Through the development of public-private partnerships, Omaha  STEM Ecosystem is leveraging our community’s strengths in developing STEM centered pathways that transforms Omaha into a robust STEM community to grow our talent pipeline. 


Julie Sigmon –Director – Omaha STEM Ecosystem

Chris Schaben, Ph.D. –Science Supervisor –Omaha Public Schools

Victoria Novak – Director of Workforce & IT Innovation –Metropolitan Community College

Jim Dennell – President –BCDM Architects

Ken Sigmon – Education Solutions Specialist-Sheppard’s Business Interiors, Inc.

Congratulations to Collective for Youth’s EFTW Team

The EFTW Team from Collective for Youth was selected as a finalist and will be heading to Facebook’s Headquarters, May 1st – 4th.  Facebook’s Engineer for the Week is an immersive program that introduces students to the fast-paced world of engineering. Through project-based experiences, EFTW hopes to inspire the next generation of diverse engineers. EFTW engages students in Scrum, an agile development framework used by real-world engineers. Teams participate in project sprints to build prototypes from design through the iteration of a final product.

Mark Your Calendars!

April 26th – 29th  City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge is an international competition that encourages communities to document as many organisms in their city as possible.  Anyone can participate – Its a great family or organization event.

For information on more events, check out our website:

Omaha STEM.com/calendar

We want to celebrate STEM professionals in the Greater Omaha area.  Do you know of someone who has an awesome job using STEM applications in their everyday work?  We would love to highlight them in our newsletter.  Contact Julie Sigmon: Julie.sigmon@omahazoo.com

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