Montana’s Office of Public Instruction is hosting the first statewide forum on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel in Helena on Oct. 4 and 5.

Nearly 200 K-12 and post secondary educators, business representatives, state agencies and other interested partners are gathered to learn about innovative partnerships currently underway in Montana schools and to build new partnerships across the state.

“We need to be preparing Montana students for the jobs of the future,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. “The K-12 system must create a pipeline of students with the necessary skills to go on to higher education in these fields, and businesses need to be ready to hire these students when they complete their education.”

In Montana, nearly all 10 of the top 10 jobs with the fastest employment growth are in STEM-related fields. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that jobs requiring science, engineering, and technical training will increase 34 percent between 2008 and 2018.

The two-day conference featured a keynote by Dr. Stephen Pruitt, Vice President for Content, Research and Development at Achieve and leader of the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. Achieve is an independent, bipartisan, non-profit education reform organization lead by governors and business leaders that helps states raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments and strengthen accountability.

Breakout sessions include information on classroom robotics, partnerships that connect students with scientists in the field, creating outdoor classrooms, the role of business and non-profit organizations in STEM education, and the Governor and First Lady’s Math and Science Camp.