According to the Department of Labor1, over 50 percent of jobs created in the future will require a background in math, science, and technology. Moreover, baby boomer retirements are expected to severely deplete the Science, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workforce over the next decade.
As the U.S. now trails in the amount of science and engineering degrees offered internationally, there is no better time to improve the participation and performance of younger students in STEM. Equipping young students with the inspiration, initiative and curiosity to pursue STEM fields is a top priority.
MIT is very active in advancing STEM literacy through a diverse array of K-12 outreach programs. These programs engage with local schools, educators, after-school programs, students, and families to enhance student understanding and appreciation of science, technology, engineering and math subjects. This includes making STEM education accessible to underperforming and underrepresented groups including girls.
1Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition.
DUE Programs and Initiatives to Increase Interest and Literacy in STEM Fields
As the “experiential learning” hub of MIT since 1992, the Edgerton Center creates opportunities for MIT students to engage in hands-on activities and projects in science and engineering. As a dynamic place for students to make discoveries and put theory into practice, the Edgerton Center naturally evolved into providing similar opportunities for K-12 students and teachers. The Edgerton Center provides hands-on classes, intensive summer programs, outreach to local schools, teacher professional development and curriculum support for schools and communities in the Boston area, across the country and around the world.
Terrascope, a freshman learning community at MIT, supports a unique radio program in which urban teens develop, report, write, produce and host a radio program on topics related to science and engineering. This program not only makes science and technology relevant to the participants but also builds their skills as communicators.
STEM Educational Outreach to K-12 Students
Programs and initiatives targeted at K-12 outreach take place across the Institute. The offerings are truly diverse, in terms of the students they serve and the breadth and depth of the experience they offer. Here is a sampling drawn from the MIT K-12 Outreach Directory (in alphabetical order by program name):
- Bridge to Engineering is a three-day program for students at Boston’s John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science. The program provides rising freshman enrolled in a combined engineering/physics class at the O’Bryant with an introduction to hands-on projects.
- Broad Institute Educational Outreach Program – generates excitement and interest in cutting-edge biomedical research among high school students and teachers in the Boston/Cambridge area.
- Edgerton Center hands-on science and engineering classes provide curriculum enrichment for upper elementary and middle-school students during the academic year. Teachers visit the Center with their classes to take part in three-hour lessons free of cost. The 11 different learning activities reinforce and enhance the teacher’s in-class curriculum, providing a hands-on approach to abstract ideas from the properties of an atom to the essentials of a circuit board for instance. Some of these dynamic classes include:
- Biology: The Shape of Life: from helix to chromosome
- Chemistry: Lego® Chemistry
- Electrical Engineering: Flashlights
- Environmental Science: Grungy Groundwater
- Engineering Design Workshop is a month-long summer program for high-school students. Working in teams, students design and build a project of their choosing, such as a motorized Razor scooter, a remote controlled bird and even an electric cello.
- Friday after Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) organized by the MIT Museum is a one-day event where participants link their mini chain reactions together forming one mega chain reaction.
- GE Girls at MIT is an intensive one-week hands-on STEM program, funded by General Electric, for rising seventh-grade rs girls from Lynn. Girls explore projects and careers in mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering, aeronautics and computer programming.
- InvenTeam initiative organized by the Lemelson-MIT program offers invention opportunities for high school students.
- KEYS program through the Society of Women Engineers brings 11-13 year old girls together with MIT women students to participate in workshops held periodically throughout the year.
- Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) is an academic enrichment summer program for promising high school juniors from across the nation who are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering.
- MIT BLOSSOMS provides free interactive video lessons for teachers to use in high school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes. BLOSSOMS lessons seek to excite young people about STEM, show STEM’s relevance to the real world, and introduce the learner to different cultures to increase cultural awareness and appreciation.
- OpenCourseWare Highlights for High School highlights of MIT OCW materials that are most useful for high school students and teachers.
- Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy academic enrichment and career exploration program for public high school students from Boston and Cambridge.
- Science and Engineering Program for Teachers is a program in which sixty teachers focus on how engineers apply the principles of science to meet the technological needs of society.
- The Sea Perch Program offers classroom and project materials that support the Sea Perch ROV build, teacher trainings for educators and a local ocean engineering challenge.
- The SPLASH through the Educational Studies Program (ESP) involves middle and high-school students who come to MIT to learn anything they want, from Duct Tape Design to Quantum Mechanics.
- The Whitehead Institute hosts programs for teacher and students as part of their Partnership for Science Education.
- Women’s Technology Program provides programs to spark high school girls' interest in the future study of engineering and computer science.
- You GO! Girl is a four-day program that engages rising 9th grade girls in science and engineering activities, provides high-school preparatory sessions and introduces girls to careers in science and engineering.