Meet the Finalists: Excellence in STEM Education

Colorado Succeeds received more than 50 applications from schools and district administrators across the state to compete for the $15,000 prize for demonstrating Excellence in Education. Guided by the Vision 2030 Framework, all programs had to stack-up against the critical question of today: How are you developing agile learners and preparing students to thrive in an uncertain future?

Experts predict that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. This means that we must embrace and celebrate education leaders and teachers who are willing to go beyond tradition. The selected finalists are challenging the status quo and exploring ways to truly engage students in learning — and now we want you to get to know them.


Cañon City High School (CCHS) — Pathways Program and SystemsGo: The Pathways Program is a three-year education series designed to prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. Students have the opportunity to earn early college credits toward a no-cost associate’s degree or specialized certifications as well as explore career fields — all while pursing a high school diploma.

Pathways Program students follow a curriculum that includes: rigorous academic coursework and career-oriented courses; participation in project-based learning activities; and research-oriented community projects such as a graduation Capstone. Grounded in the community, the ‘A’ in the STEAM pathway, stands for Agriculture, and with the help of 80 community partners the program can offer robust internships.

CCHS also offers SystemsGo, a project of the Space Foundation. This innovative rocketry and aeroscience curriculum uses project-based learning to equip students with STEM skills. Students gain hands-on experience solving problems with projects inspired by the industry and develop skills in teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. Estes Rockets has partnered with CCHS to provide engineering internships for students.


STRIVE Prep Excel High School — HackSchool, Denver Public Schools: HackSchool is a combination of in-school, after-school, and extracurricular time where students solve community problems through empathetic design and engineering. HackSchool operates under the assumption that when students are free to invent and create, they begin to see technology as a means for solving real-world problems and taking learning to the next level.

Leaning on a “reality-based learning” method, students find real problems and then create real solutions. For HackSchool students, a test is not a bubble sheet. Students are tested when a community uses a student’s creation to successfully solve a problem. No more artificial grades or pass/fail marks. If a student’s creation solves the community’s problem, it’s a success. And if the project misses the mark, students redesign with this new information.

The skills students learn through HackSchool are meant to prepare them for STEM in higher education, and enable students to do professional engineering work long before graduating from — or even entering — college. HackSchool is also closing the Digital Divide by bringing free and direct technology access to many students who have traditionally been underserved in STEM education, including students of color and young women.


JeffCo Public Schools — Warren Tech Computer Science and Cybersecurity Programs: Warren Tech is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school that focuses on helping students make meaningful connections between 21st Century academic knowledge and career-focused learning. Imagine gaining exposure to local employers and solving real-world problems, and you’ve pictured a typical class at Warren Tech. Experienced faculty facilitate student engagement in college-level work and professional projects — giving students a competitive advantage.

One of Warren Tech’s rigorous, comprehensive programs is Computer Science. This program introduces students to the software, hardware, and networking components of the Information Technology (IT) field. Students not only learn how to troubleshoot network and computer problems, but they also develop new programs.

However, you can’t talk about network issues without taking a deep dive into cybersecurity. Students learn how to understand how hackers work, so they can save others from the harmful actions of these computer criminals. Warren Tech’s programs work to ensure students have access to new technologies and techniques, providing them the opportunity to explore a wide range of careers to drive their own learning and explore new passions.

The award for Excellence in STEM Education is sponsored by Ball Corporation. The winners will be announced during a live-reveal ceremony at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on Sept. 19. Each winner will be awarded $15,000. For more information about registration and the awards visit



Manager of Communications
Colorado Succeeds