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UMass Nobel Laureate Touts Science Education at Statewide Conference Focusing on Pre K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

Twelve Organizations and Individuals Honored for Long-term Commitment in Fifth Year of Massachusetts STEM Summit

STURBRIDGE, MA- Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, PhD of the University of Massachusetts Medical School today said the Commonwealth and nation must strive to get more young people into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pipeline.

Mello highlighted the vital role of pre k-12 science education in training the scientists and engineers of tomorrow and underscored the importance of interesting and involving kids in science at a young age: "It's really, really crucial that we have more scientists and that our kids understand the challenges and the opportunities. There are problems that their generation is going to have to solve," said Mello, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and University of Massachusetts Medical School professor of molecular medicine and cell biology.

Mello, co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, delivered the keynote address as more than 550 education, business and policy leaders gathered to attend the fifth Massachusetts STEM Summit. The annual conference brings together key stakeholders to discuss how to interest more Massachusetts students in science and math, as well as how to start, scale and sustain robust Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education programs in Massachusetts school districts.

Senior education officials including Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education Mitchell Chester, Interim Commissioner of Higher Education Aundrea Kelley, Chair of the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education Maura Banta, and University of Massachusetts President  Jack M. Wilson also spoke at the conference, underscoring their commitment to STEM education.

UMass President Jack M. Wilson, said, "In order for Massachusetts to continue to be a national leader in education and innovation, we need to do all we can to encourage talented students to pursue training and careers in math and science fields. Today's Massachusetts students can be tomorrow's Nobel laureates if we provide them with enriching educational opportunities inside and beyond the classroom - from pre-kindergarten through high school and at the college level."

President Wilson added: "Priming the science, technology, engineering and math pipeline is critical to the future of the Commonwealth's innovation economy. In addition, the scientists of tomorrow will make the discoveries that will create a better, safer, cleaner world."

Event organizers honored twelve individuals and organizations that have been instrumental in bringing stakeholders together and helping to build momentum across the state for STEM education throughout the five year history of the STEM Summit.

Those recognized with framed certificates for their long-term commitment were:

  • Ray Griffin, Christa MacAuliffe Center, Framingham State College
  • John Hodgman, UMass Lowell
  • Barbara Libby, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Greg Sheldon, Sheldon Collaborative
  • Isa Zimmerman, University of Massachusetts President's Office
  • Millipore Foundation (accepted by Tara Duplaga)
  • Museum of Science Boston (accepted by Yvonne Spicer)
  • Raytheon (accepted by 2006 STEM Summit keynote speaker Ellen Ferraro)
  • University of Massachusetts (accepted by Lynn Griesemer)
  • UMass Amherst Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere/ National Science Foundation (accepted by Paula Rees)
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (accepted by Jeff Nelhaus)
  • Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (accepted by David McCauley) 

The preponderance of national statistics on STEM education continue to show a wide gap between the number of U.S. students who pursue training and careers in math and science fields, and the demands of the 21st century workforce.

For example:

  • In a 2007 international assessment of 15-year-old students, the U.S. ranked 28th in math literacy and 24th in science literacy.
  • The U.S. ranks 20th among all nations in the proportion of 24-year-olds who earn degrees in natural science or engineering.
  • A shortage of STEM teachers in the United States has been directly linked to the low quality of STEM education in this country. The United States faces a critical shortage of highly qualified math and science teachers - projected to reach 283,000 by 2015 

"This Summit showcases the work of the many stakeholders in STEM education in Massachusetts and celebrates those who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to solving the challenge we face. I congratulate the leaders recognized today as we continue to highlight the urgency of STEM action and the need to move the agenda forward, in a planned manner, in and for the Commonwealth," said Isa Zimmerman, a Senior Fellow in the University of Massachusetts President's Office and the Chair of the organizing committee of the Summit. "Given the growth of the global, knowledge based economy, increased focus on STEM education and development is in everyone's best interest."

The day-long Summit agenda also included a presentation of a preliminary Goddard Council review of STEM initiatives in other states and seven different panel discussions, called strands, on topics such as, "Empowering STEM Educators, Integrating Technology and Engineering in STEM Education and Advancing Diversity and Access.

The STEM Summit has numerous sponsors - the most recent list can be viewed at www.massachusetts.edu/stem/stem_summit_sponsors_2008.html  The University of Massachusetts has taken a lead role in organizing the STEM Summit in recent years as part of its ongoing efforts to improve student performance in key math and science areas.


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PHOTO CAPTION: Twelve organizations and individuals were honored at STEM Summit V on Tuesday, October 28 for their continued leadership in bringing stakeholders together and helping to build momentum across Massachusetts for pre K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education.

Back row (left to right):  Greg Sheldon of Sheldon Collaborative; Barbara Libby of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Jeff Nelhaus on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Ray Griffin of the Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State College; John Hodgman of UMass Lowell

Front row (left to right)  Paula Rees on behalf of UMass Amherst Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere; Ellen Ferraro on behalf of Raytheon, Lynn Griesemer on behalf of the University of Massachusetts, Tara Duplaga on behalf of the Millipore Foundation, Isa Zimmerman of the University of Massachusetts President's Office

Not pictured: David McCauley of the Department of Higher Education, Yvonne Spicer of the Museum of Science Boston.

NOTE: Digital photos of award recipients available upon request.

Contact: 

Robert P. Connolly
617-287-7073

Libby DeVecchi
617-287-7023

10/28/08

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