In our continuing series of essays reflecting on our annual gathering, STEMxchange, here’s an essay from Battelle’s David Burns that reflects on his messages for leaders of state STEM organizations at STEMxchange 2016.

by David Burns, Director of Battelle STEM Innovation Networks

At Battelle, we don’t just partner with folks because it feels good.

I don’t know why you all are into this, but I know why I am; I saw a way to teach kids differently and a way for kids to show how they were smart differently. Spreading these differences became a passion of mine 10 years ago, drove my work 5 years ago, and as a matter of fact, it’s a passion today.

Battelle operates a couple of schools. My boss, Dr. Kennedy, has a child in the school that I’m chairman of the board for. And I report to her.

I feel the pressure.

But, in the day-to-day grind, we sometimes find ourselves stuck in the muck. We tend to do this as leaders. We worry about who’s in charge. Which way is it going? Does the commissioner like us or not?

Making large-scale change is a long and difficult process, and sometimes we need to re-center. At STEMxchange, I talked about why Battelle is involved in STEM education work, and what’s important to keep in mind as we continue our work with STEMx partners.

Battelle is in this because we want to steal every good idea that you have. And I hope that you steal every good idea that we have.

So as you reflect on what was discussed at STEMxchange and think about how to make your vision for STEM education a reality here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for guidance, don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for somebody to tell you which way you should go, because you’re going to be waiting for the next ten years.
  2. Don’t let anybody else tell your story. Only you are going to be your storyteller. There is no one else in your team, your state that is going to tell your story as well as you do. It’s your responsibility.
  3. Remember, you’re a leader. You are an expert in this field. Take it. You have been doing this longer than anybody else, even if you started yesterday. You are an expert in STEM education, because sometimes it still seems like nobody knows what STEM education is. So, you can take that crown. Leadership is a taken value. But…
  4. Don’t get comfortable. If you’re in the in crowd, you’re going to be in the out crowd within 24 months.

Act on these ideas, join #successwithSTEM

To help you show your leadership we have partnered with 100Kin10 on the Everyone Succeeds with STEM campaign. We created this partnership because it gives us a shot as a coalition to do big things. We can move federal policy, we can move state policy, but we can only do it if we do it together.

Post a message about the campaign on your social media channels

  • Use this Partner Action Pack Toolkit to access campaign tools, sample posts, shareable graphics, and tips for posting.
  • Post on at least one platform and use at least one graphic during the day – and be sure to use the hashtag #SuccessWithSTEM.
  • Tag @Success_STEM on Twitter.
  • Link to org so your audience can go to the website and learn more about the effort.
Follow the official campaign Twitter handle, and retweet one of our tweets.

  • Follow the official campaign Twitter handle at @Success_STEM.
  • Retweet one of our tweets to your followers to help us spread the word about the effort and lead people back to the official campaign profile and website.
Tag critical leaders and other STEM organizations.

  • In order to make sure your governor or chief state school officer sees your efforts on social media, tag key state leaders in your tweet or Facebook post. You can find a full list of leaders in your state here.
  • Also tag other STEM-related organizations or STEM leaders on Twitter or Facebook to get them involved in spreading the word.
Keep the campaign organizers informed.

  • After you participate on social media, let us know what you did via this very short form. This will help us support you further. We’re all ears at, so please write with additional opportunities or ideas.

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