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MIT engages Gloucester youth in science


Pair with city’s middle-school students

Teresa Herbert
MIT staff members have been working with middle-school students in Gloucester this summer to raise their interest in science and engineering as part of a program that could be implemented in communities across the country.

Building robotic insects out of LEGO® pieces, creating solar-powered devices and working with underwater robots are a few of the science and engineering projects that 20 Gloucester Public School District students are working on as part of the pilot summer scholarship program that the MIT Edgerton Center is leading in partnership with the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center (GMHC).

“Our programs are designed to teach important concepts in science and engineering by means of engaging and inspiring hands-on activities,” said Kim Vandiver, director of the Edgerton Center.

During the two-week program students have the chance to put their skills to use by designing and programming LEGO insects, exploring the MIT campus using handheld GPS Assisted Virtual Games designed by The Education Arcade and the Scheller Teacher Education Program, learning about radio astronomy and space weather at the MIT Haystack Observatory, and building solar powered devices at the MIT Museum. On the final MIT day, students will learn about inventions, the patent process and get to study the science of ice cream making with the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams.

While at the GMHC, students participate in Project Sea Perch, a course in remotely operated vehicle design and construction offered by the MIT Sea Grant Program. After they construct their own underwater robots, students will test and use them in scientific explorations of Gloucester’s Harbor--and they get to keep their robots at the close of the course.

Besides offering the two-week summer program for middle-schoolers, the Edgerton Center has been working with the Gloucester Public School District to find other ways to bring science and engineering to the Gloucester community. The Edgerton Center has coordinated teacher development workshops with other MIT K-12 groups, including the Center for Materials Science and Engineering’s Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program where two Gloucester public school teachers are on campus for the summer to do research on a subject of their choosing. Five Gloucester high school students are participating in an engineering design and robotics course taught by MIT graduate students and undergraduates, and two ninth graders are participating in the You Go Girl! science and engineering program.

“Our hope is that these comprehensive interactions between MIT and the teachers and students of Gloucester will increase the students’ interest in and enjoyment of science and technology,” said Jessica Garrett, K-12 education outreach project coordinator at the Edgerton Center.


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