AMHERST, Mass. –The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which manages the Pioneer Valley STEM Network, has received a $39,780 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education through its STEM Pipeline Fund.
The money will allow the Pioneer Valley STEM Network, in partnership with after school and informal STEM providers, to develop strategies to support sustainable, high-quality, informal science and engineering education opportunities in out-of-school time (OST) programs. These strategies will include the creation of a database of expert consultants and volunteers who are available to the OST community; training of OST staff by academic researchers on the implementation of project-based experiential learning that complements, not duplicates, the traditional school day; and extensive online resources to enable OST staff to work with students on original research projects.
Funding will also be dedicated to the development of online resources for use by OST programs inside and outside of the Pioneer Valley. PV STEM Network will partner with the Region I Educator and the Provider Support Network of the state Department of Early Education and Care, the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (MAP) and other youth groups such as the Girl Scouts, Girls, Inc., 4-H and other organizations. The network also plans to leverage the model to develop a larger-scale program. In addition to the state grant announced March 11, the network has secured an additional $60,000 through in-kind support.
“We are delighted to receive this grant which will further the Pipeline goal of increasing student interest in STEM fields,” said Mort Sternheim, director of the Pioneer Valley STEM Network. “It will allow us to help after school and informal education programs to engage students in original science and engineering research projects in collaboration with UMass Amherst faculty members. These experiences can enhance students' academic studies while increasing their interest in STEM courses and careers.”
The grant received by PV STEMNet is one of several grants announced this week by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray. A total of $140,000 in competitive grants was awarded to enhance STEM education initiatives for three regional networks in Massachusetts.
“As we continue to expand successful STEM models and initiatives across the state, today’s announced funding will further enhance our efforts to encourage students to pursue STEM education and careers,” said Murray, chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “By partnering with our Regional STEM Networks, we will boost communityand after school programs that will engage students in STEM and help Massachusetts stay competitive as we prepare and train the next generation of students in 21st-century job skills.”