STEM Guides Downeast Launched

Young people in the Machias area will now have new ways to connect with resources in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM).

In STEM Guides Downeast, launched at an exciting event September 1 at the University of Maine at Machias, youth will participate in 4-H STEM programs and in science clubs based at libraries, schools, and afterschool programs. Youth themselves will recruit local entrepreneurs, engineers, astronomers, and technicians to contribute to presentations at Teen Science Cafes.

The STEM Guides Downeast project is a collaboration between MMSA and Axiom Technology and Training Center, with a Partners Council that includes the Univeristy of Maine at Machias, the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research, local schools and libraries, Sunrise County Economic Council, Washington County Government, 4-H, and others.

Senator Angus King spoke at the event about the significance of this new partnership and what it means for rural Washington County youth.

“Science, technology, engineering, and math are all driving our future. But far too often, students, especially those in rural areas, have limited opportunities to build on their interest in those fields and develop the knowledge they want and need to get ahead,” said Senator King. “This program will open new doors of opportunity for students in Washington County, and I commend all of the participating organizations for seizing this chance to come together and share their collective STEM expertise for the benefit of the next generation. Washington County is once again taking the lead and showing rural America how it can unlock endless possibilities for its students when they have the necessary resources and guidance.” The Senator’s website also has a more complete press release.

About 60 representatives from area groups and businesses, local government officials, teachers, and other community members interested in expanding the STEM opportunities for youth in the Machias area attended the event.

“It was an exciting event and the local partners are enthusiastic and ready to build on the excellent STEM resources already in the area,” said MMSA’s Jan Mokros, Principal Investigator of the project, who also spoke at the event. “We are honored to be working with the Axiom team, and this expansion of the STEM Guides project will add to our model for connecting youth in rural areas with the opportunities they need to develop their interests and futures in STEM fields. We’re also very pleased with the press coverage, which will help more students and parents discover the project and get involved.”

Funded by the National Science Foundation, STEM Guides Downeast is the fourth regional STEM Hub model being developed and tested in Maine by MMSA as part of the STEM Guides project. This model supports local people who are passionate about education and science, to be STEM Guides and serve as informal science advisers and mentors to area youth. Downeast STEM Guides will be based at Axiom Technology and Training Center, where they will work with local partners to identify existing STEM resources and connect youth with these opportunities in creative ways. This work is supported by NSF grant #1322827.

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