STEM Initiatives


STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is an acronym that continues to be a key discussion point when comparing the U.S. workforce to the rest of the technology driven nations of the world. Building a competent world class workforce to gain the competitive advantage is essential to our future success. However, STEM education and experiences extend beyond the four silos of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

A true STEM program embraces the passion of the student and through authentic engagements immerses the student in the world of a STEMist. Collaboration, innovation, communication, critical thinking, and calculated risk-taking are some of the skillset that our youth need to be successful in a changing world. We are preparing students for jobs that may not even exist as yet!

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At YES, we have an experienced STEM Education innovator in Debie Lesko. Ms. Lesko is the Director of YES STEM Initiatives and was honored as an Anne Arundel County Public Schools STEM Teacher Fellow. She established two STEM Magnet high school programs 2008 and 2011 (BioMedical and Allied Health – BMAH) and designed the framework for the three current STEM Magnet middle schools in Anne Arundel County.

In addition, Ms. Lesko was the Change Engineer for a third previously established STEM Magnet program in the system. Teacher professional development, unique curricular offerings, national presentations, and developing steadfast relationships with local businesses, politicians, higher education and community stakeholders round out her experience.


Ms. Lesko has developed a five-year Strategic Plan for STEM and 21st Century opportunities for youth and educators in Northwest PA. In addition, she will be teaching the following STEM courses as funding allows. This is a significant opportunity for students in Erie County to learn and acquire the skills to change the fabric of Erie’s workforce. The following programs will be available soon.  She is also the Great Lakes Region liaison with the National Sailing Hall of Fame STEM and Sailing initiative.

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STEM Professional Development series for teachers and pre-service teachers.

How do we meet our students where they are and assist them in mastering content, skills, and knowledge? This series engages the participant in Best Practices of STEM Pedagogy. Each session is designed around a specific principle.

STEM summer experiences for students K-12

Summer experiences are designed to introduce students to relevant STEM experiences. Taught using problem based learning, students meet from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm with at 30 minute lunch break. Each experience includes an appropriate field trip and ends with a presentation designed around a culminating project. Topics vary. Max Class size 25 students.

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STEM implementation for schools and home school groups. 

Learn how to design and present appropriate STEM lessons for students. From introduction to assessment, this consult is designed to meet the needs of the participants and support their implementation goals.

Teacher Externships in STEM fields. 

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Teachers, this is your opportunity to gain 24 hours of hands on experience in a STEM field with a local business or organization! From this experience, you will be able to design lessons and experiences for your students in formal and informal settings.

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STEM immersion programs for students K-12 and teachers. 

Spend a day as STEMist in Practice! Whether it is focused on a K-12th grade class or as a professional development opportunity these programs are designed to align with the goals and expertise of the participants.

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Implementation of STEM co-curricular clubs.

No time during the school day for STEM experiences? These co-curricular experiences can be run after school as clubs, during activity periods or on weekends. From robotics to world languages, subject matter is presented in support of curricular material using STEM Principles.


Implementation of 21st Century Skills consulting. 

How do we prepare students for a changing world? What are the skills our students must possess to be successful in careers that may not exit yet? Learn how to incorporate 21st Century Skills into daily lessons. 


Design Thinking in the 21st Century Classroom.

Learn by doing. Bring in a current lesson and learn how to imbed opportunities for design thinking and the means to assess student mastery.