The demand for skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is growing rapidly; Wheelock College recently expanded its programming to help students develop the interest, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills necessary to succeed in today’s global economy and these high demand fields. Last summer, 47 students from 29 cities and towns from across Massachusetts participated in Wheelock’s annual STEM in the City Summer Camp, a two week career and college awareness experience for rising 8th and 9th graders.
STEM is a growing movement across the United States. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. Early exposure to STEM means that students learn the necessary pathways needed to prepare them to enter into specialized careers which include—and most certainly are not limited to—biomedical engineering, network systems and data communications analysis, biochemistry, and biophysics. Keeping exposure and hands-on learning in mind STEM in the City organizers ensured that not only do participants learn about STEM in the classroom, but they have the opportunity to interact with the professionals in these fields. These key interactions assist students in seeing the connections between their class work and their future post-secondary and professional endeavors.
Between July 18-29, Dr. Ellen Faszewski, professor of Biology and Co-chair of the Mathematics and Science Department, led hands-on activities and field trips during which students learned about a variety of STEM disciplines. Staff also included Carolin Cardamone, assistant Professor of Astronomy, and Galina Dobrynina, associate Professor of Mathematics, middle school teacher Peggy Holdash, and Strategic Partnerships and Programs staff, Cara Rubinstein and Afua Maiga-Laast. Boston Public Schools generously sent ESL teacher joAnna Ellingsen to participate in the program as well.
“As educators, we are constantly reminded that the United States is lagging behind other countries when it comes to STEM education,” said Dr. Ellen Faszewski. “We need to provide real-world and hands-on experiences for our youth to introduce, attract, and maintain their interest in these fields. Through this camp, students embarked on a variety of exciting field trips, allowing them to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and how they may envision themselves as future professionals.”
Activity highlights included learning about ecology, geology, and meteorology at Blue Hill Observatory; hands on health and emergency medicine training at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; a whale watch tour out of Boston Harbor, MA; and exploring engineering, water quality, and architecture at the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum.
The academic environment at Wheelock not only provided an appropriate facility for STEM investigations, it also provided students an introduction to college life. One afternoon of camp included a tour of Wheelock’s classrooms, resource center, dorm rooms, library, theater, campus store, dining hall, and other buildings. Students also had the opportunity to speak with undergraduates and faculty from Wheelock, as well as members of the Admissions office.
Said one parent of the STEM in the City camper: “Yes, it was a great exposure to careers and college. It made my daughter realize how her interest in math and science could grow into her career.”
Students reported having a wonderful educational experience at the Camp—it was fun and very informative about careers and STEM. Upon completion, 84% youth enjoyed it and felt engaged, 88% felt challenged, and 86% felt that it was a supportive social environment (results obtained from the Survey of After-School Youth Outcomes assessment tool).
One parent commented: “I would recommend this to others, because my son not only learned about STEM, but he did it in a fun way in the world around him.”
STEM in the City wants to thank our generous funders who supported the program and learning of the students through scholarships.
We participated in the Boston After School and Beyond Summer Learning Community, which provided multiple forms of assessment, including the Assessment of Program Practices Tool developed by the National Institute on Out of School Time. This tool involved an external consultant assessing the program.
Some of the comments from the assessment were:
“Stellar pedagogy—hands-on, inquiry-based teaching, with lots of room for youth leadership and personal choices makes it fun and mirrors scientific process”
“Clear goals and well-aligned curriculum”
“Program resists common urge to pigeon-hole kids’ interests and offers broad overview of the many types of jobs/fields that comprise STEM”
Register Now for STEM in the City 2017
Registration is now open for Wheelock College’s STEM in the City Summer Camp with one or two-week options from July 17-28, 2017.