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Inquiry First.

Marking a tremendous increase in interest and participation in STEM education, early March saw a very successful regional science air at the Bartlett Community Partnership School in Lowell. With assistance and support from Middlesex Community College Service Learning students, the 100 middle school students taking part in the first Lowell’s first Middle School District Science & Engineering Fair presented more than 60 projects.

A new partnership between Lowell and Middlesex Community College provides both support and encouragement for school age students, and opportunities for Service Learning track college students to gain experience in helping to develop the next generation of STEM students and professionals. The collaboration has led to the creation of a STEM club, and short term curricula for encouraging 5th and 6th  grade students to examine the impact of science on global and local health as well as other topics.

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Presenting 142 projects conceived and executed by 400 scientists, Brockton High School recently marked its annual science fair. Running the gamut from baked ice cream to measuring air quality and composition around the school itself, the projects were diverse and impressive. Under the dedicated support of science fair coordinators Suzanne Heenan and Kaylee DeGrace who helped students and science faculty with support and resources, the fair was considered a great success. Some of the winning projects presented moved on to the regional science fair at Bridgewater State University.

We are very impressed with the caliber of work being done by these students, and we wish them every success in all of their ventures!

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Trilogy Publications is adding to its series of "Those Amazing..." books which are designed to present real-world projects and examples to upper elementary through high school age kids. The most recent, and third, title is "Those Amazing Builders." All written by Charlotte Forbes, this book follows "Those Amazing Scientists" and "Those Amazing Engineers."

The intention of the books is to demonstrate how STEM disciplines are applied in real life to help illuminate potential career paths and objectives. According to Rose Reichman, a partner with Trilogy, “Teachers need tools that help students connect what they study with their daily lives. Our books use examples of projects that young people can relate to, projects that affect their lives or their communities and excite their imaginations.”

There are programs in place to match up educators and school districts with corporate sponsors to help to bring these texts to classrooms.... Read More

The issue of lack of qualified STEM workers is, by now, well known. What are some of the innovations being employed to help correct this?

A physics professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Bob Beichner, has completely changed up his classroom by "flipping" it. He felt that the plethora of videos and information on the internet made lecturing a moot exercise, so in his classroom, students are focused on practical, hands-on work and problems. He has gone so far as to test different sizes of tables, to determine the optimal size for work space and communication (the answer: 7' round). Students, working in teams, are further motivated by contracts within those teams by which they can remove less productive classmates (who then have to do all of their work by phone; apparently this has only happened a handful of times).

What has been the result? Beichner's students take the same exams as other physics classes and generally score a grade better than their peers. Failure rates among... Read More

Intel Science Talent SearchWe were delighted to discover that there are three students hailing from Massachusetts who will be part of the Intel Science Talent Search. This prestigious science fair is open to high school seniors. Forty finalists are selected from 300 semifinalists and 1800 entrants from across the United States. This year, the finalists hail from 14 states, making 3 finalists from Massachusetts even more notable. They will compete in March in Washington, D.C.

Of particular note for us here at Massachusetts Science Fair, one of those finalists, David Seong, is an alumnus of our own events. In 2013, Seong placed second as a junior at the Fair, with... Read More

The Bromfield Schools PTO is seeking 20 judges to help evaluate 100 projects in their upcoming February 7 Science Fair. If you are interested, contact Ellen Sachs Leicher at eslassoc61@aol.com. Read more details here.

Mark your calendars to judge at the state fair, too! The Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) provides middle and high school students with the opportunity to work on independent research projects in science and engineering. Now in its 65th year, the annual statewide high school fair will feature the highest quality projects of hundreds of students from across the Commonwealth. We will need more than 300 outstanding judges to donate their time to evaluate these students' work.  Some students invest more than 1,000 hours of research in their projects!

Volunteer to judge! Please consider being a member of the distinguished judging panel at the 2014 State Science & Engineering Fair.  If you have received a four-year college degree in a science or... Read More

As important as it is to keep growing STEM options in the classroom, exposure to STEM possibilities with opportunities to explore outside of the classroom are also key. To that end, there is a new business called Click2Science. Designed to be used by staff who work with kids in out-of-school programs, this free site offers a variety of videos and other resources to expand the tool kit for teachers, coaches, and trainers. The site will continue to be developed and add more content over the course of 2014. The goal is to facilitate building skills and expanding the range of activities for inspiring and engaging kids in STEM related activities.

Check out the Click2Science website and see how you can get involved today!

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As our society grows increasingly technical in nature, and both needs and wants to be more innovative in engineering and science, careers in STEM fields are growing while the number of people entering those fields is not keeping up. This has spurred on the push to find more ways to inspire kids to pursue science and math in school.

Now there is also some call to expand the reach of STEM to include art and design. Some educators are pushing to expand STEM into STEAM -- the "A" standing for "art" -- to give kids even more tools for taking creative ideas and being able to put them into practical forms.

The concept is gaining traction even through such avenues as Sesame Street, which is starting to show how design and science can work together. Given the steady decrease in arts and music education in schools these days, kids are losing more and more of the necessary bridges that link these concepts together. Adding A to STEM won't necessarily replace that, but by increasing support for creativity,... Read More

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, four workshops for teachers on science writing will be offered in March of 2014. Details for each are:

March 1, 10 am to 4 pm, Mass Academy of Math and Science, WPI, Worcester MA
Workshop 1: Common Core: Argumentative Science Writing

March 7, 10 am to 4 pm, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston MA
Workshop 2: Common Core: Science Writing Boot Camp

March 15, 10 am to 4 pm, Mass Academy of Math and Science, WPI, Worcester MA
Workshop 3: Got Doldrums? Alternatives to Traditional Lab Reports

March 21, 10 am to 4 pm, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston MA... Read More

Science Fair project

Photo by Shelli Pabis/Mama of Letters. Used with permission.

Blogger Shelli Pabis of Mama of Letters wrote a post about her son's keen interest in science and how, as a home-schooled child in Georgia, he did not have easy access to more typical in-school science fairs. Interested in helping to cultivate his curiosity, Shelli reached out to the Sandy Creek Nature Center, which responded by sponsoring its first-ever science fair in conjunction with another event -- a rock and gem show.

With that piece in place, Shelli and her son proceeded to identify a project, conduct the experiment, and prepare the display. His wound up being the... Read More

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