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STEM on Display

CONNECT event highlights importance of science and technology in classrooms and beyond

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The campus was host on Thursday to the fifth STEM resource fair, which featured an appearance by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, as well as 150 participants, representing PK-12 education, business & community, higher education faculty and staff, community organizations and parents. The event was sponsored by the Southeastern Massachusetts STEM Network and CONNECT, a Southeastern Massachusetts public higher education partnership, of which BSU is a part.

The theme for this year’s event was “Educating for the Future, 2020 & Beyond,” a topic that has been prevalent throughout all of the network’s initiatives and activities this year. 

Addressing the topic from the podium was Trinity Harrison, 13, of Attleboro. She’d been part of the network’s 2015 initiative called “Envision the Future,” and said it had a lasting impact on her.

““I had to take charge and learn how to be a leader,” she said, before adding with a smile: “Plus, STEM activities get you away from your siblings for a week.”

The impact of STEM education was music to the lieutenant governor’s ears. 

“Working on a team and problem solving, this is exactly what we need to be doing right now, more than ever,” she said. “It literally brought tears to my eyes when Trinity spoke about her experience. My message to Trinity is that you’re obviously on a path. You’ll no doubt is reach your goals. My request is when you begin your career, please do it in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We need you here. We need your talents.”

The event also included a panel discussion, facilitated by BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr., which focused on the importance of business and educational partnerships and the benefits they bring.

The president also delivered remarks, and talked about the importance of STEM education. He listed some pride points, as well. For instance, there are 1,220 students studying STEM subjects at BSU. He also mentioned that BSU’s Center for the Advancement of STEM Education had hosted 22,000 local K-12 students in recent years for various programs.

Lt. Gov. Polito also spoke about the state’s commitment to STEM education, citing the fact that Bloomberg had named Massachusetts the most innovative state in the nation for the second straight year.

“In order to fuel this innovation economy, we must support our most important resource: our people,” said Ms. Polito, who added that the administration had infused an additional $300 million to public, K-12 education in the past two years and invested heavily in STEM. “We want to create in the classroom what is happening in the workforce. We’re doing great work in attracting people at the PhD level, but we need people with talent in technology, sciences and math from the whole spectrum of work.”

Also on hand was Bristol Community College President Jack Sbrega, who spoke of the need to graduate students who are ready for employment in science and technology fields.

 “It’s all about STEM and moving the pipeline forward,” he said.

Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy was in Washington, but weighed in via Skype.

Following remarks, participants were free to explore more than 30 booths, representing education, business, government, and community organizations. Exhibitors included AccuRounds, American Association of University Women, DePuy Synthes, North Easton Machine, Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, Robbins Children’s Programs, and South Coast Educational Collaborative.

CONNECT is a partnership of the five public higher education institutions in Southeastern Massachusetts: Bridgewater State University, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. 

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