Innovation Month to increase student awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the classroom and community

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Contact: Jim Fessenden
Public Affairs and Publications
508-856-2000; ummsnews@umassmed.edu

Sandra Mayrand, Director
Regional Science Resource Center
UMass Medical School

WORCESTER, Mass. — Recognizing that a technical workforce and skilled entrepreneurs are essential to Massachusetts’ future economic competitiveness and prosperity, the Worcester Public Schools and members of the Central Massachusetts STEM Network are joining forces on the second annual Worcester Innovation Month. Held throughout the month of March, Worcester Innovation Month seeks to promote student awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers through a range of classroom and community events.

“The Worcester Innovation Month is a great example of how members of the public and private sector can collaborate in an effort to increase awareness about STEM education,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, chair of Gov. Deval Patrick’s STEM Advisory Council. “By bringing together the city’s public schools, local colleges and universities, and area businesses, we will help prepare students for the workforce of the future in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Data from the College Board for the 2008 SAT indicate that only 22.5 percent of all students taking the SAT in Massachusetts expressed interest in pursuing a college major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. However, data from the 2008 ACT exam indicate that 65 percent of all ACT test takers in Massachusetts were considered “college ready” in math. In recognition of these findings, advocates of STEM education and awareness are committed to leveraging the state’s existing resources to meet the growing need for technologically skilled employees.

During Worcester Innovation Month, students will have opportunities to explore several STEM-related events, as well as learn from experts in higher education, business and industry about careers in this increasingly competitive technological and information-dependent world. Among the many activities occurring over the course of the month, Worcester middle school students will learn how to isolate DNA, initiate an engineering experiment, participate in a city-wide science fair and engineering expo and take part in a career awareness conference at Hanover Insurance.

“As superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools and a member of Governor Patrick’s STEM Advisory Council, I am excited and proud that members of the business community, higher education, workforce development system and local education and community agencies are partnering to bring Innovation Month to Worcester middle school students,” said Melinda J. Boone, EdD. “Innovation Month and its activities are designed to expose parents and students in the Worcester Public Schools to the importance of science, technology, engineering and math and prepare them for the related rigors of middle school and high school.”

Innovation Month activities are sponsored and supported by Worcester Public Schools, Abbott Laboratories, EMC Corporation, Intel Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Quinsigamond Community College, EcoTarium, Hanover Insurance, Central MA Regional Employment Board and Colleges of Worcester Consortium.

The Central Massachusetts STEM Network is a collaboration among institutions of higher education, nonprofits, businesses and public schools that promotes K-12 math and science education for students and teachers to enhance current and future workforces.

The full calendar of Worcester Innovation Month events includes:

Weeks of March 1 and 8:
All classes in the Sullivan Middle School, Forest Grove Middle School and University Park Campus School will be introduced to the goals of Innovation Month with special interactive lessons.

Week of March 15:
STEM experts from local businesses and higher education will offer 7th and 8th grade students a sneak peek into STEM-related careers through classroom activities.

March 16:
Worcester Public Schools will host a Science Fair/Engineering Expo/Invention Convention displaying the work of Worcester students to the public at the EcoTarium.

March 20:
Worcester students will compete in the VEX Robotics Competition New England Championship at Quinsigamond Community College.

March 20:
More than 150 Worcester female middle school students will attend the 14th Annual Women in Science conference hosted by the EcoTarium and the Regional Science Resource Center at UMass Medical School. The goal of the conference is introduce young women to careers in science and to have them meet local women who use science in their professions.

March 23:
Hanover Insurance, in collaboration with Worcester Public Schools, Colleges of the Worcester Consortium, Central MA Regional Employment Board and Quinsigamond Community College, will host a Career Night for middle and high school students and parents.

March 27:
Male students from Worcester middle schools will attend the second annual Men in STEM conference hosted by the EcoTarium and Intel and funded by the Central MA STEM Network at UMass Medical School. The goal of the conference is to introduce students to careers in science and have them meet local men who use science in their professions.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $240 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.