Gateway Project Hits a "Home Run" for STEM Education
April 06, 2012
Sixty educators from 15 Massachusetts school districts involved in the Museum of Science's Gateway Project shared successes during a March 2012 symposium at the Boston Museum. Superintendents, administrators, and other leaders were joined by staff from the Mass. district offices of Senator Scott Brown and Congressman Barney Frank, along with 35 teachers from San Antonio, Texas, via webcast.
Created in 2005 by the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®, the Gateway Project helps school districts develop strategic action plans to implement K-12 technology and engineering programs, while introducing educators to resources supporting standards-based curricula and assessments. Originating in Mass., the Gateway strategy is unique in guiding STEM-based educational reform through district-wide systemic change. Replicated in Maine and Texas, the Gateway community has involved 78 Mass. districts and 400 K-12 educational leaders.
The March event featured David Cedrone, executive director, Mass. Governor's STEM Advisory Council, who described the state's STEM education initiative, asking the audience to continue to help find and create "successful technology and engineering programs the state can scale up."
Debora Morgan, Gateway regional leader, director of technology for Chatham and Harwich Public Schools, discussed how Gateway has helped bring STEM success to Cape Cod, including an experimental "STEM Academy" class for 8th graders in Dennis-Yarmouth High School. Dennis-Yarmouth school superintendent Carol Woodbury said, "The Gateway model is the best kind of professional development because it closes the gap between knowing and doing. It's sparked real enthusiasm among teachers who see the benefits to themselves and students of doing what they have learned. When professional development changes practice, that's a home run."
Superintendent Catherine Latham from Lynn, the fifth largest Mass. school district with 24 schools, said, "We're opening a STEM-focused innovation school in September. Gateway has given our teachers training, experience, and enthusiasm. Elementary teachers in particular can find it hard to embrace science and math. Gateway's ideas and hands-on activities encourage them to say, 'I can do this.'" Lynn science teacher Lorraine Gately explained, "Gateway gave us simple, easy-to-do activities. Our kids love building things, understanding the design process, correcting errors, and making presentations. I can't say enough" about this program.
For Carlisle superintendent Joyce Mehaffey, the "most important result was that the Gateway staff challenged us to create a team and work together. We organized our K-8 science framework and the program has built momentum and enthusiasm with our teachers." Sharon superintendent Timothy Farmer described the program's "significant impact" on his district too, providing "new creativity in students and teachers and a strong commitment to STEM."
In one of the projects showcased at the Gateway event, two Canton, Mass., students (photo on right) demonstrated a solar car they had built and described a winds project for girls that put weather instruments in their hands. To reach Gateway: 617-589-3100.