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Press Release Six Educational Organizations Awarded $250,000 in Grants to Create STEM Design Challenges for Students Across the Commonwealth

Design Challenges Will Take Place During 5th Annual STEM Week in October
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  • Executive Office of Education

Media Contact for Six Educational Organizations Awarded $250,000 in Grants to Create STEM Design Challenges for Students Across the Commonwealth

Colleen Quinn, Communications Director, Executive Office of Education

BOSTONThe Baker-Polito Administration today awarded more than $250,000 total in Design Challenge grants to six educational organizations gearing up to provide STEM opportunities to students during the 5th annual statewide STEM Week to be held October 17 – 21, 2022.

“For the past several years, our administration, through the leadership of Lt. Governor Polito and the STEM Advisory Council, has worked hard to provide students across the Commonwealth with opportunities to gain valuable experience in STEM,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to offer students a platform that delivers compelling learning experiences, and one that may encourage students to pursue careers in STEM.” 

“We remain committed to creating additional access and awareness about STEM careers for all Massachusetts students and bolstering the Commonwealth’s talent pipeline,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Co-Chair of the STEM Advisory Council. “STEM Week, and the Design Challenges offered by our partner organizations, help students gain more exposure and experience in STEM subjects in an engaging and hands-on manner.”

“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.”

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 the Commonwealth’s nine Regional STEM Networks, which plan and coordinate activities with local schools, community leaders and business partners. The STEM Advisory Council is co-chaired by Lt. Governor Polito, Congressman Jake Auchincloss and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Executive Chairman Jeffrey Leiden. 

Since taking office in 2015, strengthening STEM education in the Commonwealth’s K-12 schools has been a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration. The first STEM Week was held in October 2018 to boost interest in STEM subjects among students, particularly young women and students of color, and highlight the abundance of STEM career opportunities in the Commonwealth. The STEM Week theme “See Yourself in STEM” encourages young people to think about studying science, technology, engineering and math to pursue STEM careers.

The following organizations received grants to develop STEM Design Challenges for students during this year’s STEM Week:

PBLWorks - $41,830: In partnership with Mass STEM Hub, a project of the One8 Foundation, students in grades 6-12 will use labor market data and other research to explore and present on STEM Careers through the lens of “How can we prepare and inspire people in Massachusetts to pursue STEM careers that have the greatest potential for impact?” Students will collaborate with and seek feedback from local employers and peers on their presentations to build connections as they begin college and career planning. PBLWorks aims to reach 100+ schools with this applied learning experience.

The Wade Institute - $39,965: This Design Challenge, “Extreme Zoo Makeover: A STEM Approach to Habitat Design,” will engage students in grades 5-8 in a unique experience that integrates science and engineering concepts in a series of inquiry-based investigations that lead up to a student-driven challenge. Partnering with the Lloyd Center for Environment and Buttonwood Park Zoo, this design challenge aims to reach 100 classrooms. 

Kids in Tech - $48,700: This Design Challenge, “Everyday Engineering: Using the Ordinary to Create the Extraordinary,” will deepen 5 – 8 grade students’ understanding of the different branches of engineering. The challenge will cover the five pillars of engineering and include a series of webinars to simulate the activities. Kids in Tech plans to reach 8,500 students with this design challenge. 

The STEM Center at WPI - $41,596: The STEM Center will expand the “I Am STEM” library to include four lessons for each grade level, pre-K – 5, as well as create four additional lessons for Grade 6. This will increase the total lessons in the library from 14 to 28 over the course of two years. The STEM Center anticipates reaching 5,000 students. 

United Way and Boston PIC - $30,000: This design challenge focuses on social justice for civics by using STEM as the lever for change. Approximately 150 Boston Public School teachers and their classes will participate in this STEM Week design challenge. 

Museum of Science - $49,578: The Museum of Science is launching a biotechnology challenge for students in grades 6-8 to raise awareness about the use of plastics. Students will be challenged to engineer biodegradable plastic and think about the benefits of making plastic more environmentally friendly. The challenge will reach 1,500 students. 

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 five 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 the success of i2's courses during STEM Week, i2 has developed additional project-based programs to be run in schools throughout the year, including Day of AI, i2 Full Year, and i2 Summer. For more information about bringing project-based STEM learning to your school or district outside of STEM Week, please visit www.i2learning.org.

FIRST Robotics, WPI - New England FIRST invites students and educators across the Commonwealth to engage with robotics teams during 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.

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:

  • Develop foundational skills in STEM subjects for all students
  • Create and sustain high-quality, integrated STEM pathways 
  • Deepen employer partnerships and create on-ramps to careers for traditional and adult learners


Media Contact for Six Educational Organizations Awarded $250,000 in Grants to Create STEM Design Challenges for Students Across the Commonwealth

Executive Office of Education 

From pre-school to post-secondary education, the Executive Office of Education works to connect all Massachusetts residents with an education that creates opportunities.

While Massachusetts' students rank first in the nation on many educational measures, the Executive Office of Education strives to strengthen the foundations of education reform, empower schools and educators, and develop pathways to college and careers so all students in the Commonwealth can succeed, regardless of their zip code.

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