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Inquiry First.

Daniel W. Youngstrom, a graduate of Marlborough High School and former Massachusetts State High School Science Fair exhibitor, has achieved a rare honor: As a grad student at Virginia Tech, Dan has received a Fulbright fellowship.

A Ph.D. candidate in biomedical and veterinary science at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Dan helps develop stem cell treatments for horses.  Later this month, his Fulbright fellowship will take him to Riga, Latvia to pursue his work at the Cell Transplantation Center.  "The Cell Transplantation Center is similarly developing cell-based therapies to treat a variety of conditions in humans," he said. I am excited to apply my experience in veterinary research to its work, and the collaboration should prove to be mutually beneficial."

Dan was involved in the Marlborough High School Science Fair in 2004 and 2005.  He took his 2005 project  to the Worcester Regional Science and Engineering Fair... Read More

Over the years, several participants in the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fairs have truly made a lasting impression.  Rick Housley is one of them.  Now a sophomore at Stevens Institute of Technology, Rick graduated from Boston University Academy in 2012.  A multi-award-winning exhibitor during his middle and high school years, Rick launched his science fair career with the development of a computer controlled robotic arm in 6th grade. Rick recalls that the complexity of his projects increased from year to year:

"As I matured my projects did too. They grew in complexity, depth, and real-world applicability. In 7th grade I made the robotic arm wireless. In 8th grade I developed a device capable of controlling electrical sockets via text message. In 9th grade I made my 8th grade project capable of controlling almost anything via text message, even those troublesome home appliances. In 10th grade I found my passion for biomedical devices and developed a wearable navigation system for blind users: a device that would announce to the user the location of 'key objects' within a room."

Rick won the prestigious... Read More

Empowering students to participate meaningfully in real-world research is what science fairs are all about. For any student, science fair participation has multi-fold benefits, but for some, like Emory Payne, the benefits pay off early and in a big way.

Emory and his science fair partner, Zohaib Moonis, both students at the Bancroft School in Worcester, MA, won "Team 1st Place” honors at the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair at MIT in May for their project, "Effect of Ethanol on Beta Cell Development in Zebrafish: Linking Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Type 1 Diabetes." Two weeks later, the duo headed to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, picking up second place in the Addiction Science Awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For Emory, the fun didn't stop in Phoenix.  He received the opportunity to work at UMass Medical School this summer, studying a gene mutation in... Read More

Since 1949, the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) has been promoting science literacy and advancing inquiry learning. MSSEF programs engage sustained student interest, increasing science learning while also developing students’ 21st century workplace skills, such as communication, teamwork and a strong work ethic.

It can be difficult to put into words the excitement that builds when a student's idea becomes fully realized through a science project.  We thought we'd let some of our students, teachers, and friends do the talking for us through a series of videos.  Visit MSSEF's YouTube channel, or start with The Anatomy of a Science Fair Project, below.


A little light summer reading: Longitudinal data on students from two states -- Florida and North Carolina -- reveals "STEM-relevant variables" linked to success in STEM education.

Download the full text of the report (PDF)

Read more on American Institutes for Research

Identifying problems, brainstorming possible solutions, and conducting experiments are all steps in the process of inquiry learning.  One school is taking the process even further, by adding video documentation to the mix.

Thanks to a partnership with Crissy Field Center, environmental science students from Galileo Academy of Science & Technology in San Francisco have the opportunity to use video to capture data and present scientific findings.  The video-production angle takes inquiry learning to a new level, bringing with it the potential to extend the end project far beyond the classroom walls.  In this digital age, challenging students to develop some media production skills isn't a bad idea, either!

More on KQED Education

Making science come alive for kids through interactive, hands-on, inquiry-based learning is key to getting them "hooked" enough to pursue STEM subjects as their academic careers advance.  Darryl Lee Baynes, president of the Minority Aviation Education Association's Interactive Science Programs, has an action-packed formula for encouraging minority students to think about pursuing careers in STEM fields.

A compelling part of Baynes' message?  Careers in STEM pay.  “There is a shortage of scientists and engineers in this country,” he says. “If you get a job as a petroleum engineer, you’ll make $100,000 to start. The more math and science you take, the more money you make.”

Read more on Take Part

Touted as the educational model best suited to prepare students for 21st-century challenges, project-based learning boosts student engagement while honing critical thinking and problem solving skills.

While the idea of project-based learning is gaining traction, the challenge of shifting from the "traditional" teaching method to a project-based model takes careful planning and more than a little trust.

Teacher training is crucial. In Massachusetts, teachers have an opportunity to earn the STEM Certificate in Inquiry from Framingham State University by taking a series of three professional development courses over the summer.  The program was developed by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) in collaboration with the Education Development Center... Read More

Massachusetts isn't churning out enough college graduates in the field of computing to meet the demands of the current job market.  So said representatives of Google, Microsoft, and Intel during a meeting with Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday at a Tech Hub Caucus meeting held at the State House.

According to Steve Vinter, engineering and site director at Google's Cambridge office, "Computing... is not a tech sector problem, it is a Massachusetts economy problem." Vinter pointed out that while more than 70% of new STEM jobs require advance computing skills, inadequate computer science offerings in Massachusetts schools have created a shortage of workers to fill the available openings.  One solution: Spark interest in computer science by introducing the subject earlier in students' school careers.

Read on CommonWealth Magazine



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