Lt. Governor Tim Murray participated in the Launch Event recently in support of Project Engage Everett! the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Action Plan of the Everett Public Schools. During his remarks, the Lieutenant Governor acknowledged the close, supportive partnership from Intel, Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, Mass State Science and Engineering Fair Inc. and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. He also stressed the anticipated need to involve the Everett business community.
Lt. Governor Murray was appointed by Governor Patrick as the Chairman of the STEM Advisory Council for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During his visit, he addressed a group of educators, community leaders, school administrators, prominent businessmen and women, and political figures at a meeting in Everett High School’s Crimson Café. “The jobs of the future will be based around STEM,” noted the Lieutenant Governor. I have met with many high tech firms that had job openings in STEM-related fields. There have been jobs available, but [unfortunately] there has also been a skills gap,” Murray said.
The Lt. Governor’s comments supported Project Engage Everett and noted that the state’s STEM Education Coalition and Everett Public Schools’ implementation of Project Engage, were developed to help give Everett students skills needed in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics by the time they graduated. Everett was chosen to participate because, as Murray put it, “As a community ‘Everett gets it’ in terms of academics, athletics, and community relations.” He emphasized that the programs’ goals cannot be accomplished by government programs alone. Both public and private sector partnerships must be involved as well.
This combined effort encourages more students to choose a career in STEM-related fields, allows those students to develop skills that would be required by a future employer, and will ultimately result in a “significant increase in the numbers [of skilled people] for our employers” here in Massachusetts, Murray said.
Everett’s Project Engage is designed to teach (“engage”) students in grades 6-12 to ask questions about the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, to design experiments, to discover solutions, to collect and analyze data, and to successfully communicate results. Each phase of their research experience is designed to develop key workforce skills needed in this 21st century by developing critical and independent thinking, developing problem solving, developing the ability to work in teams, and developing effective written and oral communication of results.
Project Engage doesn’t stop there, however. This program encourages students to reach out to professionals in STEM-related fields in their community to serve as sounding boards for their ideas and for guidance and support in their project’s research. The program also encourages students to develop partnerships with private industry and other school systems for materials and support over the course of their project.
Superintendent of Everett Public Schools Frederick F. Foresteire agreed with the Lt. Governor and said that it was clear that “high tech is what drives the economy here in Massachusetts”, and this education program “will help Everett’s young people be better prepared for the jobs of the future.”
Janice Gauthier, Director of Curriculum for Everett Public Schools, reviewed how Project Engage works in the classroom. Dr. Margaret Riley, president of the Massachusetts Academy of Science, spoke to the gathering and said that, when incorporated into a school system, Project Engage helped students throughout the school system, not just those in STEM-related fields, to learn how to think about life as research and how to solve problems. These skills benefit all students today,” Dr. Riley said.