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Seeking New Edisons: STEM Scholarship Will Boost Innovation in Ohio

America’s high school graduation rate is at its highest point in four decades – three out of four students now get a diploma. But in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) in Ohio, Thomas Edison’s home state, the numbers remain grim: just 60 percent of students graduate.

However, kids attending Cleveland’s MC2 STEM High School, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math education, are bucking this trend. Even though MC2 STEM students win their spots at the school through a lottery, 95 percent of them graduate and 84 percent go to college.

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Old School STEM: In the 1950, GE started publishing comics to get kids hooked on science. The comics were in English but also in Spanish. Some print runs were as large as 3 million copies. See the full story here.

There are several reasons behind the school’s success, including the fact that MC2 STEM’s students don’t just learn science; they are surrounded by it. They spend 10th grade studying at GE Lighting’s historic Nela Park campus, before moving to Cleveland State University for the final two years.

The bond between the students, GE and CSU is now growing even stronger. GE just gave the university $500,000 to start the GE Scholars Program, a scholarship program that will offer five full-tuition scholarships each year for the next decade to students with a STEM major at CSU. “STEM education is the key to driving future innovation in the global economy,” says Russell Stokes, chief executive of GE Transportation, which makes some of the most-advanced diesel-electric locomotives in Ohio. “We expect some of the next great inventors will be the students right here in Cleveland.”

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The scholarships will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, with preference given to MC2 STEM students and graduates of CMSD who majored in STEM programs.

Principal Jeff McClellan helped launch MC2 STEM – MC2 stands for Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium – six years ago as a public-private partnership among a group of local organizations and businesses. His goal was to set up a “project-based” school that would teach students the skills to “become leaders of the 21st century.” The school started with 93 students. It now has 375.

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Image credits: All images come from the archives of the Schenectady Museum of Innovation and Science

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