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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

STEM Summit

Science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, is a new program focused on increasing the number of college graduates in each of the previously mentioned fields. The initiative began in Sturbridge, Mass. two days after the results of a sophomore science and technology/engineering MCAS were posted.

The scores were considered unimpressive by a couple hundred education, civic and policy leaders, and a meeting was called on Oct. 17 to brainstorm on ways to get more Massachusetts students intrigued by careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The intention of the STEM Summit was to investigate and examine why the percentage of students interested in STEM careers has dropped dramatically, and continues to remain low.

In 1999, 26 percent of SAT takers in Massachusetts indicated a job in a STEM field as their goal. Seven years later, the percentage dropped to 19.9 percent, where is has lingered.

The objectives the STEM Summit is trying to achieve include significantly increasing student intrigue in, and preparation for, future careers in STEM, as well as boosting the number of skilled STEM teachers.

A number of keynote speakers, including Johanne Kaplan, Vice President of Research at Genzyme Corporation and former U.S. Congressman and current Chancellor of UMass Lowell Marin T. Meehan illuminated the importance of STEM.

According to links through the UMass Boston website, the 2007 STEM Summit IV: Accelerating Forward met Oct. 17 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center. Roughly 600 guests attended, “including educators, both PK-12 and higher education, community and business leaders and state and local-level policy makers.”

The STEM program aims to engage the attention of students at a young age to help them stay interested throughout their schooling. Isa Zimmerman, Senior Fellow of the PK-16 Initiative, explains that the efforts are being “directed towards elementary students,” but that there will still be plenty of opportunities and classes available to those in higher levels of school.

Zimmerman explained that one of the reasons there has been a lot of focus to outputting more STEM professionals, is that there are “more jobs open than people to fit them.” The careers may hold promising futures, and there’s an abundance of them, the initiative is hoping to expose these benefits to the students.

Meehan spoke to encourage fellow UMass campuses, as well as the whole state of Massachusetts itself, to aid in the development of STEM.

“In Massachusetts we need a plan to coordinate our efforts,” he said. “Accelerate STEM learning, improve STEM teaching, and reap the maximum benefit from the investment. We must sustain our commitment and keep our eyes on the long-range goal. Nothings less than the future of our children and grandchildren is at stake.”