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Monday, October 17, 2022

Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates the 5th Annual Massachusetts STEM Week at Northeastern University

 Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates the 5th Annual Massachusetts STEM Week at Northeastern University

BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Education Secretary James Peyser and Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun to kick off the 5th annual statewide Massachusetts STEM Week, an effort launched in 2018 to inspire students in all grades, from elementary school to college, to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The kickoff event was held at Northeastern University, with the Governor signing a proclamation officially declaring October 17 through 21 as Massachusetts STEM Week.

Schools, colleges and universities, museums and businesses will hold STEM-focused events for young people. During the kickoff event, Northeastern University students, who are part of a team invited to design and build a Mars Rover that can compete at the Mars Desert Research Society in Utah, demonstrated their work. 

On Wednesday, several businesses will host tours and job shadow opportunities to give students a glimpse of STEM occupations as part of Industry Day, a new STEM Week effort this year aimed at making more connections between students and employers. Throughout the week, approximately 25,000 students in more than 1,000 classrooms will participate in one of six Design Challenges, which give students more exposure and experience in STEM subjects in an engaging and hands-on manner, announced earlier this year. 

Strengthening STEM education in all schools has been a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration since taking office in 2015. Lt. Governor Polito co-chairs the STEM Advisory Council along with U.S. Congressman Jake Auchincloss, and Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The STEM Advisory Council is appointed by the Governor and includes education and business leaders in STEM industries that work to promote STEM education, partnerships among industries and schools, and internships for students. 

“When our administration held the first annual STEM Week in 2018, we aimed to offer students, teachers and employers throughout the Commonwealth an opportunity to explore exciting fields of study and industries that benefit from hands-on skills and experience in STEM,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Since then, we have been proud to grow and expand STEM Week throughout the Commonwealth, ensuring that more organizations and businesses recognize the importance of encouraging young people to gain knowledge and skills in these in-demand fields.” 

“As Co-Chair of the STEM Advisory Council, it has been a privilege each year to host the annual, statewide Massachusetts STEM Week and ensure that students of all ages have the opportunity to see themselves succeeding in cutting-edge, leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration has made strides in expanding STEM achievement and growing more robust STEM curriculum and training programs, but it’s imperative that this important work continues so that the next generation of our STEM workforce grows and thrives.” 

“Educators say students are more engaged and curious about their courses and learn how to problem solve through experiential learning, said Education Secretary James Peyser. “Exploring different fields helps students grow to their fullest potential. When students have a sense of purpose, they become more engaged in their studies, able to easily see how it all fits into the future they would like to create for themselves.” 

“Massachusetts is the STEM powerhouse of the next generation. But there are challenges: we face deep math learning loss due to COVID. We must redouble our efforts to improve math education so that every teacher and student can be successful,” said Congressman Jake Auchincloss 

“It is well known that future economic growth is directly connected to the STEM fields,” said President Joseph E. Aoun of Northeastern University. “To further our competitive edge here in the Commonwealth—and the nation—we need to go beyond STEM. Students who master technology, data, and human literacies will be the graduates who shape our knowledge economy.”  

“STEM Week represents another opportunity to provide students across the Commonwealth with hands-on STEM experiences, with the goal of creating high-quality pathways into a STEM career throughout a student’s educational journey,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D. Ph.D., Executive Chairman at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. “As the largest biotech company in Boston, we at Vertex believe it’s important to be a leader in investing in STEM education and partnering with the community to ensure all students — particularly young women and those who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM — continue to have the opportunities they need to pursue and succeed in a STEM career.” 

Since taking office in 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has been committed to equipping students, teachers, and schools across Massachusetts with the resources necessary to expand access to STEM studies. 

Among its successes, the administration has worked to: 

  • Expand college and career pathways for young people to pursue industry-recognized credentials.
  • Invested in equipment, awarding more than $153 million in Skills Capital Grants to high schools, colleges, and other educational institutions to modernize classrooms and labs.
  • Developed the Career Technical Initiative (CTI), turning vocational schools into three-shifts-a-day education sites so more young people and adults gain career experience and credentials.
  • Boosted enrollment in vocational-technical programs by 8,000 more students than enrolled in 2015.
  • Launched Innovation Pathway early career programs at 60 high schools to give thousands of students both technical courses and workplace internships in STEM fields.
  • Adopted new digital literacy and computer science curriculum standards, giving public school students the first statewide computer science curriculum framework.
  • Provided teachers statewide with access to professional development and high-quality applied learning STEM curriculum.
  • Deepened partnerships between educational institutions and employers to offer more work-based learning experiences in STEM fields. 

The need for STEM graduates particularly impacts Massachusetts because growth in these jobs will outpace average job growth and is projected to account for 40 percent of total employment increases in Massachusetts. According to 2018-2028 Massachusetts job growth projections, STEM occupations will grow at 7.2% versus 3% across all occupations. 

Yet, women and minority groups continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields in Massachusetts and across the country. Outside of healthcare, there are roughly three men to every woman in STEM jobs like computer science, mathematics, engineering, and 2020 data estimated that just 27% of STEM workers are non-white. In Massachusetts, just 5% of the STEM workforce is Black, and just 6% Hispanic. 

STEM Week is a collaborative effort with the STEM Advisory Council, which is working to generate interest from the business community for STEM Week activities around the Commonwealth, and foster partnerships with school districts. The state’s Regional STEM Networks plan and coordinate activities for STEM Week in conjunction with the STEM Advisory Council. Regional STEM networks connect educators, community leaders, and industry partners in order to foster opportunities for students in STEM fields. 

To learn more, www.massstemweek.org 

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