All the Media Buzz About NORTH State STEM

Local news segment about the Ignite Opportunity 2.0 STEM Career Day on October 23, 2015.

Over 1,000 North State freshmen explore STEM career opportunities

By Alayna Shulman of the Redding Record Searchlight

If the idea of careers in “STEM” — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — only conjures up images of labcoat-wearing chemists for you, then you must have missed the second Ignite Opportunity STEM Career Day at the Shasta District Fair grounds on Friday.

There, over 1,000 North State high school freshmen from seven counties explored careers in those fields with exhibits from some 50 organizations and businesses representing everything from horticulture and architecture to game-wardening.

Some piqued kids’ interest with intriguing, prop-filled displays such as, “Why do flowers change colors?” (the horticulture booth), while others took a more traditional approach using diagrams and pictures of the job.

“It’s a wide range,” said Chris Dell, director of STEM education for the Shasta County Office of Education. “There’s more to STEM than just those disciplines.”

Since STEM-related careers are forecast to become more common in coming years, Dell said the idea is for kids to get exposed to them early.

“If nothing else, land in STEM and you’ll be good to go in life,” he said.

That’s why the event is reserved for freshmen: Unlike older students, they still have time to pick STEM-related classes if they liked what they saw Friday.

For the kids who can’t see themselves in a STEM career, Dell said the event is also meant to show that STEM education can lead them to a career they love if they can just get through the educational legwork.

Trinity High School students Jerica Jones, Elissa Penn and Jimmy Saulsbery, all 14, said they were impressed by the gamut of careers at Friday’s event, including someone who helps businesses get more customers using search-engine optimization.

The freshmen said they all have dreams of STEM-related careers. Elissa wants to be a marine biologist, Jimmy wants to design cars and Jerica liked the Department of Fish and Wildlife exhibit because she wants to work with animals.

“Our big thing is to make sure these kids see all these things are here in our own backyard,” Dell said.

For more information on local STEM education and careers, go to

Tehama County’s Makerspace program aims to foster the Maker mindset in our community by giving students access to projects from coding to video production to creative writing and graphic design. Students of all ages are able to explore, tinker and try out different things.  Most importantly, they will have the opportunity to find the things that motivate and excite them and take their learning to the next level.

The project began as the vision of Michelle Carlson and Maureen Clements and has grown in a very short time to include partnerships with the countywide SERRF afterschool program, local organizations such as Expect More Tehama, the Tehama County Arts Council, the Mentoring and Foster and Homeless Youth programs and several alternative education programs serving at-risk youth, to name a few.  It has also been recognized by the Maker Education Initiative as a Maker Corps Host Site for 2015.

In addition to field trips and teacher professional development, the Makerspace is also home to student volunteers through the Makerspace Ambassador program.  This program allows us to provide high school students with opportunities to grow skills and connections with the community, build capacity, and create marketing and design products for non-profits in our region.

Making cultivates a lot of great things, among which are “dream big” attitude, innovation and determination.  Qualities which are profoundly empowering.  Being a maker means having the ability to create your own path and to positively impact the world around you.  It means there are no limits other than the boundaries of your own imagination.  

We are delighted to be able to provide this unique learning environment for the students of Tehama County!

REDDING, California - About 1,000 area high school freshmen descended on the Redding Civic Auditorium on Friday to learn about tech-related careers.

Ignite Opportunity STEM Career Day was the first of its kind put on by the Shasta County Office of Education, according to Chris Dell, director of STEM Education for the county office of education.

“The goal today is to give kids a chance to see career as their goal in education,” Dell said. “Data show a STEM career is a great paying job” and there will be more of those jobs needing to be filled in the future.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and the some 40 to 50 businesses that participated in Friday’s event showed that STEM career opportunities exist in Redding. Among the businesses and agencies participating were MC2 Design Group, Caltrans, REU, Vestra and Ted Pella.

Local universities and colleges also were on hand to share information on STEM educational programs, such as Shasta College, Simpson University, Chico State University, and the Institute of Technology.

Students participated in interactive presentations, learning first-hand how science and technology directly relate to careers.