MIT Stem Pals
November 2012

STEM Efforts I Am Thankful For
From Megan Rokop

Megan RokopWe can surely all agree on one thing — working in STEM education can be a frustrating and challenging career. So I thought it would be nice to take a moment to reflect on 10 projects, announcements & meetings that have recently provided me with uplifting moments of inspiration & reflection, in an often-daunting field. Naturally (as with seemingly everything in the field of STEM education), there are complications, caveats & possibilities for debate hovering behind each of these issues. But just for a moment, I ask you to put those aside, don your “idealism hat,” and think about how much it means, even just to have these events initiated and underway. So without further ado, here they are — a combination of local, state & national efforts — listed below in no particular order:

  • Innovation schools: This August, Governor Deval Patrick awarded $585,000 to 20 schools in Massachusetts, thereby enabling their implementation plans as Innovation Schools that are “given the flexibility to be creative in their approach to improving education for students.” This second round of grants includes several STEM schools.
  • NGSS: Very soon, the second publically-available draft of the Next Generation Science Standards will be released for review. These new standards are written to be centered around practices, cross-cutting concepts and core ideas:
  • cPALMS: Florida has led the way in developing a curriculum-sharing platform for K-12 educators to “Collaborate, Plan, Align, Learn, Motivate & Share.” Lesson materials are submitted, and reviewed by educators. Resources that are vetted and approved become freely available on the site, listed by the standards they address.
  • MA State Science & Engineering Fair: I have been participating at MSSEF for years now, as a judge, a career panelist, and most recently on the Operations Committee & the Board. This inspiring organization not only sent 26 high school students to the Intel International fair (ISEF) this May, but also produces a fascinating blog.
  • The MIT K-12 outreach community: I am a very proud member of the MIT K-12 Outreach community, and it has been so motivating for me to watch the community grow, and continue to get together and share best practices. How exciting is it, when a single university has so many outreach programs, that we need our own database?
  • How to end the list? I must say, that for me personally, the number one thing that motivates me every day is interacting in person with all of the high school students in Boston and Cambridge who come to work in my lab at the Broad Institute. It is surely those personal interactions that, day after day, melt away the frustrations and challenges of teaching STEM, and provide endless fulfillment and inspiration to me.

Megan Rokop is Educational Outreach Program Director at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard

Back to newsletter