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Massachusetts Business Roundtable's JD Chesloff Addresses STEM Leaders

April 06, 2013

In March, Massachusetts Business Roundtable executive director JD Chesloff (photo on right) told teachers, superintendents, and other educational leaders at the Museum of Science, Boston that with the projected shortage of science, technology, engineering and math professionals, STEM education is critical to the nation's global competitiveness. He also said that over half of middle schoolers in a 2011 survey preferred eating broccoli to doing math. He wasn't kidding.

Chesloff addressed a symposium of educators from 18 Mass. school districts involved in the Museum's Gateway Project, which guides STEM-based educational reform through district-wide change. Staff from the Mass. district offices of Senator William Cowan and Congressmen Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch talked with teachers who shared successes and best practices.

For Chesloff, the solution to the STEM workforce shortage involves fostering children's innate STEM skills as early as possible. The Commonwealth has responded with its STEM Advisory Council and @scale initiative, and the council has endorsed Gateway as a scalable model and best practice in STEM education. Created by the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), the Gateway Project helps school districts develop strategic plans to implement K-12 technology and engineering programs, while introducing educators to resources supporting standards-based curricula and assessments.

"Gateway has been invaluable to our teachers," says Bourne superintendent Steven Lamarche. "They took the ball and ran with it." His district has introduced engineering in middle school and is exploring it for high and elementary schools. He plans to hire a grade 7-12 STEAM coordinator and host an Engineering Day in May.

According to Manchester-Essex Regional superintendent Pam Beaudoin, the Gateway Project helped her district infuse science with engineering. They use the KnowAtom system in elementary school and elements of the Museum's Engineering the Future® high school course. Carlisle superintendent Joyce Mehaffey says, "We analyzed our K-8 science framework and hired an engineer to help us embed engineering into the curriculum."

"We benefit greatly from our Gateway involvement," says Harwich Middle School principal Leonard Phelan, especially being able to "network with other educators and bring best practices and innovative ideas back to our school." Districts of Distinction (Abington, Bourne, Carlisle, Duxbury, Falmouth, Manchester Essex Regional, Needham) also showcased their innovative activities.

NCTL vice president Yvonne Spicer tells educators, "You are the movers and shakers, making systemic change and touching the lives of thousands of children." Replicated as a model in Maine and Texas, the Gateway community has involved 85 Mass. districts serving 45% of Mass. students, and 425 K-12 educational leaders. The district total will increase to 102, when 17 more Mass. and New Hampshire school districts attend summer 2013 institutes.

Related Links

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500