Perhaps at no other time in our nation's history has science literacy for the non-scientific public been of such critical importance. That type of access - for all students - is the legacy of Stark County's Science and Math on the Move (SAMM) program.
In 1995, a committee of educators and community leaders gathered to consider a simple but revolutionary concept suggested by W.R. Timken, Jr. His concept launched a new era in science education for Stark County and became one of the most enduring community-based collaborations to raise math and science achievement in the nation. The notion of a jointly-held, highly-mobile inventory of high tech scientific equipment shared by all school districts was not necessarily new. Though two other places in the country were trying it, no one had ever done it on the scale attempted by Stark County. Further, it was not just for gifted students.
The initial grant to start SAMM was awarded by the Timken Foundation in 1995, over a generation ago. Since that time, SAMM has become the norm for a joint collaborative of the 22 school districts affiliated with the Stark County Educational Service Center, regional colleges and universities, local industry, and area community organizations. While districts pay participation fees to support both the Center and the SAMM mobile services, the magnitude of community buy-in is evident in the specific institutions and organizations that have partnered with this collaborative effort (see side bar).
SAMM is housed at the Bill Mease Center for Science and Mathematics located at the R.G. Drage Career Technical Center. Most recently (2017-18), the Science Center and mobile SAMM van partnered with districts by:
- Fulfilling 692 requests for 2,937 pieces of technology/equipment for use with 23,521 students (a grand total of 12,738 requests for 58,257 pieces since its inception in the 1996-97 school year)
- Delivering, picking up and refurbishing 176 elementary and middle school science kits
- Purchasing materials through local sources and cultivating organisms at an annual savings of approximately $25,000 to the districts
- Providing 307 set-ups of living organisms to classrooms
- Presenting 32 professional development opportunities attended by 203 local teachers
The SAMM program won an Ohio's Best Practices Award in 2000 and has been recognized nationally by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.