MIT Partnership with the Gloucester Public Schools

By Jessica Garrett, K-12 Education Outreach Project Coordinator, Edgerton Center

After a successful start, the Edgerton Center is embarking on year two of a pilot project with the Gloucester Public Schools. The intent is to raise the interest of middle and high school students in science, technology, and engineering fields by sharing MIT’s passion for science. MIT’s hands-on project style engages young students in learning the complex content of science. Edgerton staff has been working with the staff and students of the Gloucester Public Schools to test methods and curriculum materials. Gloucester students have visited on field trips, and attended summer camps, and a number of teachers have also participated in professional development opportunities at MIT. Along the way, we hope to discover the best practices for working with distant school districts in such collaborations.

During the school year, Gloucester teachers visited the Edgerton Center to learn about hands-on modules that they could then take back and teach in their classes. For example, the 8th grade teachers were in the middle of a biology unit, so they viewed the “Living LEGO” class on MIT’s campus, where visiting students explored genes and chromosomes, and did experiments with heredity on breeding populations of LEGO fish. Edgerton staff then assisted with the implementation in Gloucester and together we transformed the once 3-hour-long workshop into lessons more appropriate for a school setting. Our intent is to post the lesson, teacher’s guide, and materials lists on OCW, to provide the content-rich, hands-on lessons to teachers nationwide.

Over the summer, Gloucester students participated in a number of programs, including You Go Girl! where 9th grade girls are introduced to a wide variety of science and engineering strands. In addition, four Gloucester high school students joined the Engineering Design and Robotics Class, along with students from the John D. O’Bryant High School, and students from around the state via the TEC Collaborative. The high schoolers worked in small teams designing, building, and testing their own radio-controlled robots. The course, based on 2.007, was team-taught by members of the MIT FIRST Robotics team including
mechanical engineering students Shane Colton ‘08, Matt Robertson ‘09 and Greg Echelberger, MIT ‘11.

The summer ended with a two-week-long summer program for 20 middle school students who took part in science and engineering activities on campus with MIT K-12 outreach groups and at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center (GMHC) in Gloucester. At the GMHC, the students built Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) with MIT Sea Grant, whose finfish hatchery is conveniently located in the same facility.

Several other MIT K-12 outreach programs have partnered with the Edgerton Center in this effort. They include the Broad Institute, the Center for Materials Science, the Center for Environmental Health Studies, the Education Studies Program (ESP), Haystack Observatory, Lemelson-MIT, the MIT Museum, the Scheller Teacher Education Program, and The Education Arcade. Raising the interest of middle and high school students in science, technology, and engineering fields (from left to right): (1) Students build an insect out of LEGO pieces using prototype systems developed by the Media Lab. (2) A middle schooler works on her Sea Grant “Sea Perch” ROV. (3) This student marvels over her solar powered sculpture at the MIT Museum.

If your outreach group would like to get involved with this project, please e-mail