Spring means science and math for middle schools

Regional Science Resource Center hosts Innovation Month for students and teachers

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

March 21, 2012
  Hands-on science activities like the one pictured here take center stage during Innovation Month in Worcester.

Spring is time for warmer weather, longer days and, now for the fourth year, focusing on science in Worcester middle schools. Innovation Month gets underway this weekend with the first in a series of events and activities scheduled throughout the spring.

Innovation Month was created by the UMass Medical School Regional Science Resource Center (RSRC) in partnership with other members of the Central Massachusetts Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Network, with the shared goal to improve STEM education and increase the number of students interested in related careers. Worcester public schools, institutions of higher education, employers, nonprofit organizations and the Central Massachusetts STEM Network raise awareness of the many STEM-related job opportunities by bringing the world of STEM careers to all Worcester seventh graders. Partners connect STEM professionals in the community with Worcester middle school students through a variety of classroom and community events during Innovation Month.

  • On Saturday, March 24, the 16th annual Women in Science conference will be held at the Medical School and the EcoTarium from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The conference introduces 150 Worcester middle school young women to careers in science and to local women who use science in their professions. This year’s keynote speaker is Lydia Villa-Komaroff, PhD, chief scientific officer at CytonomeST. Dr. Villa-Karmoff is a molecular biologist and a former UMMS faculty member.
  • The 25th annual Frontiers in Science Conference for high school science teachers will take place Monday, March 26, at UMass Medical School. Hosted jointly by the RSRC and Massachusetts Area Health Education Center Network, the professional development seminar features UMMS scientists who will present the latest advances in science and medicine being made in their own laboratories. This year’s interactive presentations will be “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells To Model Type 1 Diabetes," byRene Maehr, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine; “Small RNA function in genetic conflict resolution,” by William Theurkauf, PhD, professor of molecular medicine; and “Drugs of Abuse and the Brain,” by Sonia Ortiz-Miranda, PhD, research assistant professor of microbiology and physiological systems.
  • Created four years ago as a complement to Women in Science, the Men in STEM conference will take place Saturday, March 31, with workshops at the EcoTarium, lunch, a design challenge and tours of the fabrication facility at Intel. Through hands-on workshops and interactive talks, the program introduces boys to STEM careers by bringing them together with local men working in fields ranging from nursing to engineering, who will share first-hand accounts about the professional and personal rewards they enjoy in their careers. Charles F. Desmond, EdD, chair of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Board of Trustees, will be the keynote speaker.
  • On Thursday, April 12, volunteers from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will take science on the road as they visit seventh-grade science classes at Claremont Academy and University Park Campus School with hands-on activities that reflect what they do in their work. (Volunteers from EMC, Intel and Abbott will visit the other middle schools).

“With all the regional, statewide and national discussions about innovation and economic growth, it is important to remember that it all begins with a strong, relevant and engaging K–12 STEM education,” said Sandra Mayrand, director of the RSRC. “With Innovation Month, as with our other programs, we help support and advance the work of schools and the entire community to build that strong academic foundation for our students.”

Related links:
Men in science wow middle school boys
GSBS students inspire with their love of science
The Regional Science Resource Center
Hello, my name is . . . Sandra Mayrand

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