Small Town News
STEM aims to turn students on to science
On September 1, Senator Angus King traveled to Machias to help introduce the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative to Washington County. The organization has local sponsorship in many Maine communities, including the Axiom Education and Train? ing Center locally, and aims to create challenging and fun projects that deal with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and expects to involve 600 Washington County youth between the ages of 10 and 18. It is sponsored by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
"We are trying to make kids passionate about science and technology," says Dr. Jan Mokros, STEM senior project director, who explains that the aim is to get student involvement outside of the school environment. "We'll be building a database Of local people and organizations who have something to contribute," she says.
The 4-H Club is a major participant in the STEM program, several speakers emphasized. "We are not just sheep and canned fruit," according to one, who observed there are 20,000 youth involved in 4-H in Maine and that 74% indicate an interest in STEM subjects.
King stressed the point that distance is no longer a barrier to high paying technology-based employment, thanks to the development of the Internet. "Geography is not destiny," he said, before providing several examples of entrepreneurs located in rural communities. "Success is based on opportunity," King said. "There could be a Bill Gates in Whiting who would never blossom if he or she didn't get an opportunity." The STEM initiative will show young people how they can take an idea and develop it into a business opportunity.
Dr. Brian Beal, professor of marine sciences at the University of Maine at Machias, is already onboard. He was asked after the close of the presentation about his involvement. "When they asked me," he says, "I replied this is a slamdunk. Let's do it." Beal explains that he was attracted to the STEM initiative because "so much of what we see fails to tie the student to the land. What is different about here? That is what we need to stress."
More information about STEM is available at <steminme.org>.
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