Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Third Annual STEM Week with Virtual Kickoff in Collaboration with MIT and the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair

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BOSTON — Today, Governor Charlie Baker, STEM Advisory Council Co-Chair Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, MIT President L. Rafael Reif, educators, business leaders and state officials kicked off the Third Annual Massachusetts STEM Week. This week, throughout the Commonwealth, academic and employer partners will be engaging in virtual events, design challenges, speaker panels, lessons, and activities in an effort to encourage more young people to explore science, technology, engineering and math coursework and careers, and to "See Themselves in STEM."

During a virtual kick-off event hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair, Governor Baker signed a proclamation declaring October 19-23 Massachusetts STEM Week. This year, the STEM Advisory Council has partnered with the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership to highlight the importance of mentoring, supporting, and identifying with underrepresented youth, particularly girls and students of color, in STEM fields and careers.

Since taking office in 2015, strengthening STEM education in schools across the Commonwealth and deepening the STEM workforce pipeline has been a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration, and it remains committed to expanding opportunities and resources in and out of the classroom. Schools across the Commonwealth have strengthened career coaching and planning, and state education officials are working to help school districts develop and expand programs that give students rigorous college-level courses in STEM subjects through early college and career pathway programs.

"Our administration is committed to providing students in every corner of the Commonwealth with every tool, resource and opportunity necessary for them to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields of studies and careers," said Governor Charlie Baker. "I am proud to join Lt. Governor Polito and the STEM Advisory Council to kick off the third Massachusetts statewide STEM Week, and we are grateful to our partners in education and the workplace for their continued collaboration and support on behalf of our students."

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"As Co-Chair of the STEM Advisory Council, I recognize the continued, critical need for closing achievement, opportunity and workforce gaps in STEM education so that we can provide every student with the same chances and tools for success," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Co-Chair of the STEM Advisory Council. "While this year's STEM Week might look different, thanks to the creativity and flexibility of our partners, its importance and impact remains the same: for every student to see themselves in STEM."

This year, the STEM Advisory Council coordinated with seven organizations across the state to offer options for STEM-focused Design Challenges. Each challenge includes professional development for teachers prior to STEM Week, and STEM-focused activities, curriculum, and engaging challenges during STEM Week that can be accessed virtually, in-person, or through a hybrid model. Design Challenge partners include: Kids In Tech, Museum of Science, Gale Force Education, FitMoney, MIND Research Institute and STMath, WPI STEM Education Center, the Wade Institute for Science Education, the Lloyd Center for the Environment and the National Marine Life Center.

"Since the Baker-Polito Administration launched STEM Week two years ago, learners of all ages, in every region of the Commonwealth, have participated in engaging, inclusive, and fun learning experiences to spark a passion in STEM education," said Secretary of Education James Peyser. "Despite the challenges this year brings, the STEM Council, educators, and employers across the state are committed to sustaining this momentum and look forward to engaging all learners during STEM Week and beyond."

"At MIT, we are energized by scientific discovery, passionate about seeking solutions to the hardest problems, and dedicated to making STEM education accessible to learners of all backgrounds," said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. "It is especially important that young people—tomorrow's leaders—understand the new technologies that will shape our future. MIT is proud to host the kickoff of the third annual, and first virtual, Massachusetts STEM Week. We are grateful to Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and the STEM Advisory Council for their leadership in making STEM education and employment top priorities for the Commonwealth."

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"The earlier we engage students in inquiry-based learning and support them with role models from STEM industries and academia, the more robust and diverse our future STEM workforce will become. The Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair develops and encourages the next generation of innovators to engage in independent science and engineering research," said Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair Executive Director Helen Rosenfeld. "We are so grateful for the breadth of our partnerships. Universities like MIT and companies like Sanofi Genzyme, MathWorks and Cabot understand this, with their investments in the science & engineering fair program. Thank you to the leadership of the Commonwealth for prioritizing these opportunities for STEM education."

"Without a doubt, the events of this past year have shown all of us how crucial STEM professionals are to our lives and well-being, and I hope that many more young people across the Commonwealth have thought about how they could contribute to society by studying science, technology, engineering and math," said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley. "We need more students, especially young women and students of color who are underrepresented in these fields, to pursue these careers and become future STEM professionals."

"Getting kids hooked on science is all about creating fun, hands-on experiences where they can explore these topics in the real world alongside scientists and mentors," said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Vertex. "Those experiences might look different during a pandemic, but as leaders and educators, we have an opportunity to innovate in how we deliver them to students. At Vertex, we created an all-virtual summer internship experience for our Boston Public School partners, and we'll continue to work with the community to ensure students – particularly women and those who are underrepresented in STEM – have the opportunities they need to succeed."

To find out more about STEM Week events, visit the Mass STEM Week website at https://www.massstemweek.org/.

About the STEM Advisory Council

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito co-chairs the STEM Advisory Council along with Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III and Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, Executive Chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The STEM Advisory Council is appointed by the Governor and includes education and business leaders in STEM industries that work to promote STEM education, partnerships among industries and schools and internships for students.stats

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