Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announces nearly $200,000 in grants for STEM education
Grants awarded to the Boston Children’s Museum, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, MassCAN, Science Club for Girls and Youth CITIES
WALTHAM, Mass. – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced today that it has awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to five non-profit organizations to support student education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. The grants will further the development of Massachusetts’ future life sciences workforce, and will build upon the Patrick Administration’s strategy for enhancing STEM educational opportunities across Massachusetts.
Massachusetts leads the nation in student math and science proficiency; the state again ranked number one on the Milken Institute’s State Technology and Science Index, published in April 2013. The MLSC has identified expanded access to quality STEM education programs as an important workforce development priority. The five grantees are taking innovative approaches to the enhancement of STEM education, while ensuring access for students from diverse backgrounds.
“Increased access to STEM education is essential to Massachusetts’ future economic competitiveness, including our strength as a global leader in the life sciences,” said Governor Deval Patrick.
“In our innovation-based economy it is vital that young people from all backgrounds have access to quality STEM educational opportunities,” said MLSC President & CEO Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., who serves on the Governor’s STEM Council. “These grants will allow these five organizations to provide more students with opportunities to excel in technology-based education and careers.”
The five organizations that received grants focus on different strategies for enhancing STEM education and diversity:
- Boston Children’s Museum: “Maker Lab Program” ($50,000) will utilize this grant to support a pilot project to develop a Maker Lab Program. The Maker Lab Program will be a creative space where parents and children can tinker and explore topics using different tools and techniques, with an emphasis on life science learning for children. This is an opportunity for the MLSC to support the Museum’s efforts to develop STEM skills through informal science programs.
“We are thrilled to receive this support from Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which will enable us to address a critical need expressed by both visitors and community leaders,” said Carole Charnow, President and CEO of Boston Children’s Museum. “We know that many young children miss out on fun and engaging experiences that spark an interest in the STEM disciplines. This lack of early exposure can create barriers and can even discourage a child from enjoying and succeeding in science at school. Our Maker Lab Program is a series of creative science and technology workshops in which children ages 6-12 years old and their parents tinker, explore, create and build based on the child’s interests and imagination. These workshops help children and families develop science process skills such as observing, comparing, categorizing, experimenting, problem solving, and using tools; and discover how joyful active STEM learning can be.”
- Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEM): “Girls Building Self-eSTeEM” and Event-based STEM opportunities ($30,000) provides STEM-related activities to girls who are at-risk within underserved communities through the FaB Factor program. Continued funding from the MLSC allowed them to bring programming to more girls by expanding their program offerings into the summer months. GSEM also offers a variety of STEM-related programming that directly ties into the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to all girls within GSEM’s 178 communities.
“Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts is grateful for the continued support of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which has allowed us to expand the Girls Building Self-eSTeEM Initiative and event-based STEM activities impacting nearly 6,000 girls,” explained Ruth N. Bramson, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “Our two-part initiative composed of programmatic and event opportunities for girls in grades K-12 increases STEM awareness and academic achievement, builds self-esteem, and inspires girls to pursue both higher education and future careers in STEM.”
- Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN - $50,000) will use the MLSC’s grant to support a partnership of organizations collaborating to inspire and educate Massachusetts students in computing and to prepare them to lead and innovate in a future economy that will depend on and be driven by computer technology. MassCAN wants to make sure that Massachusetts plays a nation-leading role in providing all its students with the opportunity to be inspired and prepared for many of the most extraordinary computer science and computer science-enabled careers of the 21st century. Another one of MassCAN’s goals is to ensure the state actively develops the highly educated workforce necessary to sustain the nation’s leading knowledge and information-based state economy.
“MassCAN is grateful for the support of the MLSC, and in the near term we will use it both to develop detailed action plans and to coordinate task forces to implement those plans,” said James Stanton of the nonprofit Education Development Center, which is spearheading MassCAN efforts. “EDC is leading efforts to develop voluntary statewide K-12 computer science standards, curriculum, and professional development for school communities and teachers, and a public awareness campaign. We look forward to involving the education, science, research and business communities to assist our work.”
- Science Club for Girls (SCFG): “Girls with a Z” program and the pilot internship program for high school girls ($50,000) will increase the number of young women interested in research careers in biomedical science and other STEM fields. The MLSC grant will be used to: (1) expand and enhance the “Girls with a Z” program, which introduces students to anatomy, stem cell biology, developmental biology and project-based learning through zebra fish, a research model organism; and (2) the development of a research internship program for high school students, accompanied by a feasibility study for implementing research-oriented vacation week and summer research experiences across the state.
“Without the MLSC’s support, we would not have the audacity to implement these programs, which make science and engineering come alive,” said Connie Chow, SCFG Executive Director. “By connecting motivated but perhaps tentative young women to role models, to real world applications, and helping them become comfortable in university and research environments, they are inspired to pursue college studies and research in STEM.”
- Youth Creating Impact Through Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (Youth CITIES): “MedTech Tinkering” ($18,950) exposes young people to the mindset and principles of entrepreneurship. The “MedTech Tinkering” program will provide experiential learning for students in all components of STEM that is informed by medtech and expose students to technology-related projects that will allow hands-on “tinkering.” The program will also foster career awareness by building relationships with industry professionals through mentoring, as well as encourage community well-being by directing students toward medtech projects that improve human health and welfare.
“At the heart of all Youth CITIES programs is providing the environment/scenario and contextual relevance for youth to exercise creative problem-solving, and apply it in a way that impacts community. The biggest innovations and community impact is often driven by STEM-related activity, yet many youth who enjoy science, technology, engineering, and math, are not aware of the exciting career pathways their interests can lead them to,” said Vicky Wu Davis, Founder and Executive Director of Youth CITIES. “MedTech Tinkering will show how biology can affect technological innovation, which in turn can improve health and human welfare, bringing STEM to life in a real-world learning environment that fosters career awareness, and authenticates why they are learning the material in school. “
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1-billion, state-funded investment initiative. These investments create jobs and support advances that improve health and well-being. The MLSC offers the nation’s most comprehensive set of incentives and collaborative programs targeted to the life sciences ecosystem. These programs propel the growth that has made Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences. The MLSC creates new models for collaboration and partners with organizations, both public and private, around the world to promote innovation in the life sciences. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.
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