HB139 passed the House and Senate unanimously despite early concerns about the program being run by the governor's office rather than the State Office of Education and about whether the money would be better put toward issues such as class size or per pupil spending.
The idea behind the center is to find best practices for teaching STEM and implement them in Utah schools to interest more students in those fields.
"There are ways to teach science and math and technology and engineering that are better than other ways, and ... we're finding those best practices around the world," said Stan Lockhart, a member of the board and husband of House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo. "Our goal is to find a way to help our teachers implement them in the classroom."
DiCaro said it's uncertain when the board will introduce the new techniques in Utah schools. This year, the board will focus on math.
Miss America Mallory Hytes Hagan attended the press event Friday to promote STEM education. She said she wished she had known as a student about the opportunities available in STEM fields. She was scheduled to later attend a STEM event with students at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City.
Prosperity 2020, a business-led initiative to improve education in Utah, along with USTAR, a state program to help university research fuel jobs, paid Hagan's appearance fee, said Justin Berry, USTAR marketing manager. Utah EPSCoR, a federally-funded program to strengthen research and education in science and engineering, paid for her hotel and travel, said Rita Teutonico state EPSCoR director.
Named to the board
Gov. Gary Herbert has appointed 10 members of the 11-member board that will run the state's new STEM Action Center.
Bert VanderHeiden • Vice president of Aerospace Structures, ATK
Blair Carruth • Assistant commissioner for Academic Affairs, Utah System of Higher Education
Brad Rencher • Senior vice president and general manager, Adobe
Christine Kearl • Deputy for education, Office of the Governor
Gene Levinzon • Managing director, Goldman Sachs
Mark Openshaw • State Board of Education
Martell Menlove • State Superintendent
Robert Brems • President of Utah College of Applied Technology
Stan Lockhart • Government affairs manager, IM Flash Technologies
Spencer P. Eccles • Executive director, Governor's Office of Economic Development