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Gateway Districts Create STEM Initiatives in Massachusetts

January 17, 2014

Four Gateway Project districts are putting lessons learned in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into practice. Endorsed by the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council as an @Scale educational model, the Gateway Project works with school districts to develop strategic plans to implement K-12 technology and engineering programs, introducing educators to resources supporting standards-based curricula and assessments.

The STEM efforts include:

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy for Middle School Engineers at Auburn Middle School is one of 47 Innovation Schools created in 2010 after Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Achievement Gap Act. Auburn Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle's district was part of the 2011 Gateway Institute.

"It is critical that we expose students to STEM education to prepare for the jobs of the 21st century," said Gov. Patrick who toured the academy in the fall. Programs like this one are "an example of how targeted investments in education will expand opportunity and create long-term growth." The STEM Academy serves about 100 students.

The Career Academy at Methuen High School is designed for students who want to expand knowledge and interest in biotechnology or engineering. Students practice skills used in advanced study of both fields as they gain exposure to work-based learning, college and career guidance, mentoring, internships and field trips. Says Methuen academy coordinator and 2006 Gateway participant Melissa Tobin, "Our Gateway experience was the driving force behind the academy."

Wareham 2009 Gateway participants implemented a 7th grade STEM course in 2012-2013 and hope to roll out an 80-student 7th grade STEAM (A for Arts) Academy in 2014-2015 using the engineering design process and real-life experiences relating to state standards. Gateway regional leader Sue Taber says, "Through the Gateway Project we have gained experience with other districts that helped move our district forward."

Manchester-Essex Regional district curriculum and instructional technology director Scott Morrison was a 2011 Gateway participant. The district offers afterschool programs including a STEM club and robotics for middle school and high school. Independently, he works with industry to offer professional development supporting elementary STEM learning.

"We are thrilled. These districts learned strategic planning in STEM at a Gateway Institute," says Yvonne Spicer, Gateway director and a Museum vice president. Gateway has reached 100 Mass. districts serving 48% of the state's students and more than 450 K-12 educational leaders. Gateway is part of the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®. For more info, email: gateway@mos.org.

The Museum of Science, Boston

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