Educators and administrators from across the district have teamed up and joined 85 other districts from New England to participate in a year long initiative to strengthen the Dracut Public Schools’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programming.
The Gateway Project Institute, funded by a grant established by the National Center for Technological Literacy (NCTL), and facilitated by the Museum of Science in Boston, aims to inspire the nation’s next generation of inventors and engineers; bring awareness to districts about the critical need for STEM education; and assist districts in beginning comprehensive planning and work related to implementing a K-12 STEM program of studies. The Gateway Project Institute is also a forum for districts to share best practices and resources in support of STEM implementation.
Dracut’s team includes Maria McGuinness Principal of the Englesby Intermediate School, Karen Taylor, Science Department Chair at Dracut High School, Michael McElhinney, Technology and Engineering teacher at DHS, Christy Kervin, Science teacher at DHS, Katherine Bosan, Science teacher at Lakeview Junior High School, and Meghan Cox, Elementary teacher at Greenmont Elementary School. Our team began its work in July of 2013, and is engaged in conducting a gap analysis of the district’s existing STEM program, and creating an action plan for the strengthening of Dracut’s STEM programming.
In addition to this effort and our traditional science and mathematics courses, current programming at Dracut High School includes:
- Introduction to Technology
- Introduction to Engineering and Design
- Drafting I & II
- Computer Aided Design
- Independent Research
- Computer Applications
- Computer Science Gaming and Music
- Advanced Placement courses in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Calculus, Computer Science, and Statistics
Other supports and connections at Dracut High School includes:
- A long standing relationship with the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UML)
- UML Science of Rivers program
- UML Climate Change Teach-In
- UML iSense Project-Visualization Data Collection
- MassBioEd Bioteach Grant (including professional development, equipment, and job shadowing)
- EPA Emergency Response Mobile Unit educational outreach
- Armed Forces Communication and Electronics – MITRE STEM grant
The renovation of Dracut High, which will be complete by the opening of school in September of 2014 includes a new robotics/engineering lab, other new and updated labs and classrooms, multiple computer labs, a computer science classroom, a computer based language lab, interactive whiteboard technology in every classroom; all within a complete wireless environment.
At Lakeview Junior High School, in addition to traditional science and mathematics classes, science and mathematics enrichment classes are available. These classes incorporate technology and engineering projects and activities. Computer classes at Lakeview also incorporate technology and engineering concepts and projects.
At the elementary level, the district employs a well regarded mathematics program (Math Expressions). Teachers have been provided with updated professional development this year in support of the program. Our Gateway Project team is assisting in strengthening the district’s alignment with state standards in science.
In further support of STEM education, the district is in its second year of a partnership with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell’s U-Teach program. College students majoring in STEM fields participate in classroom lessons and activities from Kindergarten through eighth grade.
As reported in a report of the International Technology Education Association, it is expected that the number of STEM related jobs will grow by 17% in the next ten years, whereas growth in other fields during that same time period is forecast to be 9.8%. The Dracut Public Schools is committed to providing robust and comprehensive educational programming and facilities in support of our students’ preparation for careers and jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.