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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces 4th Annual Massachusetts Statewide STEM Week

Awards Grants to Education Organizations to Launch STEM Design Challenges during STEM Week
For immediate release:
8/19/2021
  • Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
  • Governor's Press Office
  • Executive Office of Education

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces 4th Annual Massachusetts Statewide STEM Week

Terry MacCormack, Press Secretary, Governor's Office

STEM week

WORCESTERToday, The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the fourth annual STEM Week will take place this year from October 18-22 and will feature mainly in-person events, after being held virtually last year.  Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Education James Peyser joined President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Laurie Leshin to make the announcement at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where they also awarded nearly $300,000 in Design Challenge grants to seven education organizations gearing up to provide STEM education opportunities to students across the Commonwealth during the 4th annual statewide STEM Week.

“Our Administration, through the leadership of Lt. Governor Polito and the STEM Advisory Council, has worked hard for the past several years to help kids across the state gain experience in STEM fields,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Especially now, with the most technology jobs per capita in the country, the demand for highly-skilled people is a pressing issue and STEM Week is an important way to highlight the many opportunities that exist in science, technology, engineering and math.” 

“We remain committed to creating additional access and awareness to STEM careers for Massachusetts students across the state,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Chair of the STEM Advisory Council. “STEM Week and the design challenges offered by these organizations that we are proud to support, will help students gain more exposure and experience in STEM subjects and provide them with the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Strengthening STEM education in the Commonwealth’s K-12 schools is a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration. The first STEM Week was held in October 2018 as a way to boost interest in STEM subjects among students, particularly young women and minority students, and highlight the abundance of career opportunities in the Commonwealth. The STEM Week tagline “See Yourself in STEM” encourages young people to think about studying science, technology, engineering, and math to pursue STEM careers.

STEM Week is a collaborative effort between the Executive Office of Education; the STEM Advisory Council, which works to generate interest and support from the business community for STEM activities and is co-chaired by Lt. Governor Polito, Congressman Jake Auchincloss and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Executive Chairman Jeffrey Leiden; and the Commonwealth’s nine Regional STEM Networks, which plan and coordinate activities with local schools, community leaders and business partners. 

“The STEM design challenges provide engaging and meaningful opportunities for students in all grades to gain knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math by solving real-world problems that communities face,” said Secretary of Education James Peyser. “Our design challenge partners are a crucial part of making STEM Week meaningful and fun for our students.”

Engaging more K-12 students in STEM isn’t just good for them; it’s good for Massachusetts’ innovation economy and, even more profoundly, our world.  There is a pressing global need for a diversity of STEM professionals, leaders, and innovators–people of every race, gender, and socio-economic background–to co-create successful solutions to great problems,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin. “Introducing STEM at an early age is critical in helping students develop self-confidence, and gain valuable teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills needed throughout life. Our hope is these design challenges will foster a long-lasting interest in STEM that extends to future educational and career choices.”

“Getting kids hooked on science is all about creating fun, hands-on experiences where they can explore these topics in the real world alongside scientists and mentors,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Vertex. “Throughout the pandemic we crafted novel ways to deliver these experiences virtually, and we remain fully committed to partnering with the community to ensure students – particularly women and those who are underrepresented in STEM – continue to have the opportunities they need to succeed.”

The following organizations received grants to develop STEM design challenges for students: 

BioBuilder Educational Foundation, Newton - $21,515: BioBuilder invites students across the Commonwealth to engage with its Idea Accelerator, a digital offering that allows students to learn the foundations of biodesign and challenges them to develop a biotechnology that solves any challenge they want to address. The world’s health crisis has focused everyone’s attention on biology and life science. A design challenge related to bioengineering is not only timely but is also a way to focus student’s ideas on solving society’s needs, allowing students to both see themselves in STEM and see STEM in the world. To learn more, contact Stephanie Ovitt at stephanie@biobuilder.org.

CoderZ by Intelitek, Inc. - $10,000: CoderZ invites students and educators to explore CSTEM, the fusion of computer science and STEM, through their award-winning platform during Massachusetts STEM Week 2021. Owned by Intelitek, Inc., CoderZ's gamified online platform is as easy to use as it is powerful. Students learn core STEM, coding, and robotics skills, while supporting 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. To learn more contact Kathy Scott at kathy@gocoderz.com or 215.589.3954, and to schedule a demo, visit https://calendly.com/kathygocoderz.

FIRST Robotics WPI, Worcester, $102,700 - New England FIRST invites students and educators across the Commonwealth to engage with robotics teams during MA STEM week and learn more about how to get hands-on with robotics.  FIRST programs enable students from kindergarten through high school to understand the basics of STEM and apply their skills in an exciting challenge while building habits of learning, confidence, and teamwork skills along the way. To learn more, visit https://nefirst.org/ or first@wpi.edu

Gale Force Education - $25,000: Gale Force Education brings the excitement of power engineering to high school students through Engineering for Resilience (EfR), which focuses on the design and operation of New England’s power grid. In a series of challenges aligned to MA STEM standards, students will design, test, and improve power grid system components and a model power grid system. To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/2UMvRdN or contact us at michael@kidwind.org.

Kids in Tech, Inc., Lowell - $40,240: Kids in Tech’s STEM Challenge will help students in the Commonwealth visualize the concepts of AI, understand how these systems affect the world, and appreciate the potential they have to change the future. Students will utilize two online platforms, Machine Learning for Kids and Scratch, through which they will complete engaging activities that allow them to see what is possible with AI concepts and technology. The challenge will culminate in a project in which students will design their own Smart Cities using AI principles and programming language. To learn more, visit us at www.kidsintech.org or info@kidsintech.org

Museum of Science, Cambridge - $49,994: The Museum of Science and EiE®, the Museum’s curricular division, invites educators and students to see themselves in STEM by engaging with the museum’s newest permanent exhibition, Engineering Design Workshop powered by MathWorks, in classrooms throughout the Commonwealth during Mass STEM Week 2021. Engineering Design Workshop enriches hands-on activities through the use of state-of-the-art tools and includes the popular Design Challenges program that invites visitors to design, build, and test their own solutions to fun engineering and computer science challenges. Challenges will engage students live and in-person as they engineer to solve problems related to environmental challenges humans face across the globe, set in the context of urban, coastal, suburban, and rural settings across the Commonwealth. To learn more or join the challenge, contact Kristen Thomas at kthomas@mos.org.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Boston - $16,245: In partnership with Boston Public Schools, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s (UWMB) BoSTEM initiative challenges students and educators across the Commonwealth to explore social justice for civics by using STEM as the lever for change. The impact of social justice issues on youth has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and racial injustices. Through this design challenge, teachers will support their students in local data collection and synthesis to build a social justice message and project around equity in the city for issues like our deteriorating environment, lack of affordable housing, transportation equity and food security. To learn more, contact us at bostem@supportunitedway.org

Wade Institute for Science Education, Quincy - $25,000: The Wade Institute for Science Education, the Salem Sound Coastwatch, and the Lloyd Center for the Environment have designed “Hurricane Heroes! Storm City, Massachusetts,” a phenomena-based challenge that will allow educators to use grade-level appropriate science and technology concepts that address Massachusetts curriculum standards. This challenge will give students across the Commonwealth the opportunity to learn about storms and their impact and to incorporate engineering concepts with physical and earth science disciplinary core ideas. To learn more or to join the challenge, visit us at wadeinstitutema.org or email wadeinstitute@wadeinstitutema.org.

STEM Challenge Partners

The following organizations were also announced as STEM Challenge Partners. The organizations have collaborated with the STEM Advisory Council over the last 4 years to provide opportunities for students across the Commonwealth.

i2 Learning

i2 Learning has been proud to partner with the Commonwealth since the inaugural Massachusetts STEM Week in 2018. Building on i2's successful weeklong and monthlong programs in schools and districts around the country, i2 is now partnering with select Massachusetts school districts to pilot i2 Full Year, a complete school year of immersive, interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum. For more information about bringing an i2 program to your school or district, please visit www.i2learning.org.

Mass STEM Hub and Project Lead the Way:

As part of Mass STEM Week 2021, Mass STEM Hub, a program of the One8 Foundation, is providing an opportunity for schools to connect directly with industry professionals to help students deepen their learning and link their coursework to real-world careers. With Student Industry Connects for STEM Week 2021, middle and high school students (grades 6-12) are invited to submit Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and OpenSciEd (OSE) projects from Fall 2021 to receive authentic feedback from STEM professionals on their work. Classrooms that submit projects will also have the opportunity to continue the conversation with professionals through follow-up virtual classroom visits. Visit Mass STEM Hub Student Industry Connects website for more information, including a link to register. Contact connect@mass-stemhub.org with any questions. 

About the STEM Advisory Council

The grants were awarded through the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, whose members are appointed by the Governor and include education and business leaders in STEM industries that work to promote STEM education, partnerships among industries and schools, and internships for students. The STEM Advisory Council serves as a coordinating entity between the public and private sectors and has three main priorities for STEM Education in Massachusetts:

·       STEM skills for all through applied learning

·       Guided pathways to college, careers, and lifelong learning

·       Alignment to economic & workforce development through employer partnerships.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces 4th Annual Massachusetts Statewide STEM Week

Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito 

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