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STEM Bright Spots

Bright Spot in Coeur d'Alene


Educators are integral to students’ engagement in STEM and development of a worldclass STEM workforce. However, educators often do not have firsthand knowledge and experience in STEM fields - starting their teaching careers straight from a traditional university educational program.

The STEM Action Center, in partnership with the Workforce Development Council, is providing K-12 classroom teachers and college and career advisors the opportunity to extern with local businesses over the summer. This program places selected externs with companies to work on projects related to their area of expertise and requires educators complete 200 hours of on-site, experiential learning. Externs earn $5,000.00 and professional development credit, if they so choose. The goal of the program is to give classroom educators the opportunity to expand their skill set so that they can better prepare students for life beyond high school.

Craig Peterson, a 5th grade teacher at Northwest Expedition Academy in Coeur d’Alene was an extern at his local Idaho Forest Group. Craig gained firsthand experience working to “understand how the Forestry and Lumber Industry contribute lasting and positive impact to future generations,” said Craig.

“There are two big takeaways for me. The first is the STEM aspects related to the lumber industry. There is so much information related to science and technology and engineering, ... it’s unbelievable. The lumber industry is local and therefore, a topic students can easily relate to. I envision using this information with my LEGO robotics in the classroom and my robotics club. The second takeaway is the care taken in forest management and how forestry is a GOOD THING, not a mass killing of trees that the uninformed public is sometimes led to believe. These entities (Foresters and Conservationists) are working together to help grow healthier forests and this translates so easily into elementary science, especially when looking at ecosystems and the energy transfer within that ecosystem.”

According to Marie Price of Idaho Forest Group, “Craig’s perspective as an educator reinforced the fact that every aspect of our industry can be correlated to STEM – from forest biology, to the math associated with manufacturing logs and selling lumber, to the computer software used to automate our mills and track production and sales. Craig condensed all that he learned into several informational panels designed to spark a student’s curiosity and interest. Each mill will receive a display board with panel materials that can be used at schools and community events. Craig created a wooden puzzle for kids that requires geometric thinking. It is challenging to solve!”

View and/or download this or other Bright Spots by clicking on images below (pdf format).

Idaho STEM Action Center

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It's in these subjects that students learn the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration - skills that translate to success in many fields. The STEM  Action Center is here to support this development and provide Idaho with the talent pipeline it needs for its economy to thrive. Idaho can generate a strong, STEM-competent and competitive workforce that will make us become a prime STEM business destination.


Industry participation is essential for success, and we’re here to help make that participation easier. We’ve created many ways for Idaho businesses to engage with STEM education. From mentoring and volunteering to donating and partnering, you can help move the economy forward by closing the gaps in Idaho’s workforce. Let us help you help Idaho!


To learn more about the STEM Action Center’s strategies, success stories, and positive impacts in your community, email:

Idaho STEM Action Center
802 W. Bannock St., Suite 900
Boise, Idaho 83702

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