CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS STEM NETWORK
From left, Sophie Pearson, Johanna Smith and Emily Humphries, seventh graders from Gibbons Middle School in Westborough, extract DNA from an onion in the labs of the UMMS Regional Science Resource Center.
A collaboration among institutions of higher education, nonprofits, businesses and public schools that promotes K-12 math and science education for students and teachers is certain to enhance current and future workforces. The Central Massachusetts STEM Network is one such collaboration that illuminates the possibilities that exist when science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are embraced.
Sandra Mayrand, MBA, directs the STEM Network. Inspired by her love of science, Mayrand has helped build formal and informal associations and partnerships that reach far more students and teachers than any one person or entity could alone.
Mayrand’s success was recently rewarded when the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education awarded the STEM Network a $500,000 grant to launch STEM Central, a strategic communication initiative that will increase awareness of STEM careers and the educational pathways required for entry into the 21st century math and science workforce. “Because of the existing partnerships that have grown from the STEM Network, we can move forward quickly with the goals of STEM Central. We’re delighted to receive major funding to apply what we’ve learned about attracting this age group to careers in science,” said Mayrand.
STEM Central’s plans build upon the innovative collaborations and programs of the Regional Science Resource Center, also under Mayrand’s direction at UMMS. Initiatives will engage middle school students in STEM careers by introducing them to role models and teaching them what the careers entail; help students create parent- and peer-friendly messages about STEM careers and the pathways leading to them; and develop networks of minority, low-income or first-generation college families to foster discussion of STEM career choices.
Sandra Mayrand, MBA (left), was a recipient of the 2008 Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service. The Carballo Award is presented to a select few who exemplify "the highest standards of public service through exceptional accomplishment, superior leadership, creativity and productivity."
At last year’s annual Massachusetts Middle School Science Fair, which is chaired by Mayrand and attracts more than 350 middle school students annually, the Central Mass STEM Network member organizations held a career fair to highlight the roles that STEM topics play in the business, education and science fields. This year, an information blitz will take place during March. In partnership with Worcester Public Schools, members of the STEM Network, including scientists from the UMMS community, will take their shows on the road by “doing science” in Worcester schools during “Innovation Month.” Members will also become STEM ambassadors in Worcester after-school programs, where they will be interviewed by students; the students will then write profiles of the ambassadors, thus creating an archive of STEM career possibilities. Ultimately, these students will become junior STEM ambassadors themselves by creating STEM career awareness communications to present to their peers and families.
STEM Central will also replicate the highly successful Women in Science Conference that the Regional Science Resource Center co-sponsors with the EcoTarium. The original conference creates unique opportunities for middle school girls to interact directly with successful women who are using science in their careers. This year, five such conferences will be held in partnership with school districts, foundations, businesses, and colleges and universities, including the new Men in STEM Conference for middle school boys in Worcester. By expanding on an already successful model, STEM Central is reaching out to even more students while maximizing resources and partnerships for wide-ranging benefits.
STEM Initiatives at UMass Medical School
Central Massachusetts STEM Network Members
Schools and Districts
AshlandBay Path Regional
Spencer-East Brookfield Regional
Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
Catch the Science Bug
Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at UMMS
Central Massachusetts Regional Employment Board
Central Massachusetts Curriculum Coordinators Network
(Convened and facilitated by the UMMS Regional Science Resource Center)
Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, WPI
Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair, Inc.
Pride Productions, Inc.
Worcester Regional Science and Engineering Fair Board
Colleges of Worcester Consortium
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Fitchburg State College
Mount Wachusett Community College
Quinsigamond Community College
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester State College
Fallon Community Health Plan
Hanover Insurance Group
This information appears in the UMMS 2008 Annual Report. PDF available.