May 2013
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The BYEN Insider
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MITS is a non-profit Massachusetts based organization providing, high quality professional development for K-12 teachers and informal educators.  Through collaborations with over 100 museums, aquaria, nature centers, and other non-profit science education organizations, MITS' educator workshops and programs increase awareness of, and to improve the quality of teaching inquiry-based, minds-on, hands-on STEM education. By providing teachers with the knowledge, skills and resources to provide effective STEM instruction, MITS' programs increase student interest and achievement in science, technology and engineering. MITS programs tap the expertise of educators and scientists from research, cultural and educational organizations, and colleges and universities to model inquiry-based science, engineering and technology curriculums.

Powering the Future with Green STEM Education

Dr. Packard, Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College


On May 15th, "GET ENERGIZED! Powering the Future with Green STEM Education" was hosted by BYEN adn the Boston STEM Network at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.  The event brought over 150 people together to share resources, activities, and experiences, engage in informative break-out sessions, and listen to motivating speakers.


The first section of the event was done much like a science fair: folks from the clean energy industry discussed career pathways for youth, afterschool providers showed curriculums and activities, and people from higher education gave information on their programs. Groups that came out to exhibit include: the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Salem State University, Boston Green Building, the New England Board of Higher Education, Beyond Benign, Ambri, Zoo New England, the Northeastern University Marine Science Center, Next Step Living, FastCAP Systems, New England Aquarium, "e" inc., BYEN's Everyday Explorers, LEAH, Bunker Hill Community College, and NSTAR. Folks unable to table were free to leave their resources on a table for other attendees to pick up.


After an introduction from Franklin Institute President George C. Chryssis, Neil Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Boston Private Industry Council, welcomedd participants and shared a few words. Keynote speaker Dr. Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College, highlighted the promise and possibility present in the room and the value of mentoring young people. She advised the audience not to underestimate the power of small, casual interactions, or "mentoring moments."  Young people remember those interactions and they add up to become a source of inspiration.  Two young people who went through the STEM pipeline, Hanad Duale and Estefany Benitez, also came up to share their experiences. Kamal Chavda, the Assistant Superintendent for Data and Accountability at Boston Public Schools, gave an overview of the Boston State of STEM Report.


Participants then went into breakout sessions. Topics included: Benchmarks for STEM Success, Cultivating Diversity in STEM Careers, Pathways into Green STEM Careers, Building STEM Skills Through Hands-on Experiences, Youth Opportunities in the Clean Energy Industry in Massachusetts, and Incorporating Sustainability into STEM Programming.


The event wrapped up with a call to action from the Boston STEM Network's Out-of-School Time Task Force co-chairs, Chris Smith of Boston After School and Beyond and Peg Sprague of the United Way, asking participants to join the STEM Network, follow-up on connections made that day and contribute their input on a forthcoming STEM Capacity Building survey.


Special thanks go out to the organizations that co-convened the event, including the Boston STEM Network, the New England Board of Higher Education, New England Women in Energy and Environment, Boston Greenfest, EBC New England, the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership, Greenschools, and PEAR. 


We would like to especially thank our sponsors, the Noyce Foundation and NSTAR for funding Get Energized!


Article2Bringing Back Green Energy with the Wind Wise Workshop
Workshop participants work on creating their wind turbines.

The long-awaited Wind Wise: Wind Energy for Curriculum for Youth Employment Programs workshop hosted by BYEN took place on April 26, 2013 at the YMCA's Egleston Youth Center.


Susan Reyes led the Kid Wind workshop, which kicked off with a charades ice-breaker, where each participant acted out an air or wind related description, such as "windmill water pump" or "The Wolf Blowing Down the Three Pigs' Houses." Participants then received pre-assembled kits of materials and began to build the skeleton of their turbines.


Susan gave a presentation on how to begin to talk about wind, what it is, and the uses people have for it. She used sealed jars and bags to demonstrate how air is a very present, if invisible, aspect of our lives.  She gave facts on the increasing efficiency of wind power, and the thinking that goes into the number and design of the blades, as well as the mechanics of how they produce electricity.


Afterwards, the participants started to build the blades for their turbines. There were many things to consider, like the weight and type of the chosen material, the shape, and how much space they should actually take up. They approached their task with enthusiasm, sanding wood and cutting plastic, looking much like their students would. After building and testing the strength of their designs, folks were welcome to take their turbines back to their organizations to recreate the experience or build their own.

Article3Spring STEM Education Learning Tours

Debrief with Education Director, Kristin Metz, in Mather Elementary Outdoor Classroom

Due to the positive feedback we received after our summer 2012 tours to MathPower at Northeastern University and Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, BYEN and the Boston STEM Network Out of School Time Task Force coordinated another series of tours this spring. 


April 26th tour with the Boston Schoolyard Initiative: 

On Friday, April 26th, Learning Tour participants traveled with Outreach and Stewardship Manager, Maureen White, and Education Director, Kristin Metz, to observe classroom teachers using two of BSI's urban Outdoor Classrooms on the grounds of Boston Public Schools. The day began with a morning introduction of the development and purpose of the Outdoor Classrooms, and a discussion among participants about how they could be used to provide relevant STEM learning opportunities in their respective programs. Participants included educators and program staff from Thompson Island Outward Bound, Ferry Beach Ecology School, the Boston PIC, the TIE Project, Friends of Holly Hill Farm, "e"inc., Edward Everett Elementary School, Learning Prep School, and Ellison Parks Early Education School.


The Learning Tour participants traveled first to Russell Elementary where they observed a group of students interacting with the natural world through guided discovery and sensory experiences. Participants then visited Mather Elementary, and observed a kindergarten class doing an activity on the signs of spring in the Outdoor Classroom. Equipped with their own Science Kits, the students investigated the space and recorded signs of spring in their notebooks including budding plants, birds and insects. It was a rewarding experience to witness the students use scientific language without realizing it, and watch as they interacted in a green space.


 May 10th tour with ReadBoston and the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy

In 2011, ReadBoston implemented an Environmental Literacy Project across their programming in early education centers, after school programs and in the Boston Public Schools. This project provides age-appropriate books for classroom lending libraries, read aloud guides with extension activities, staff support for in-class and family activities, and funding for experiential field trips to locations like the Boston Nature Center and Harvard Museum of Natural History.


On May 10th Anna Adler, Manager of Literacy Programs, took participants on a tour of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy's afterschool library to see how ReadBoston's Environmental Literacy resources are being used to develop children's knowledge of the environment. The Learning Tour group included participants representing the Student Conservation Association, Catholic Schools Office, and the Boston PIC. Each were given their own copies of books complete with read aloud guides and extension activities.


Anna began the tour by explaining the benefits of ReadBoston's Environmental Literacy Initiative and demonstrating a "read aloud" of an environmentally themed book. By reading and discussing books about the environment, students think about different ways they can protect and improve the natural world.


Kim Mahoney, Principal of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy, and Lisa Warshafsky, Extended Day Coordinator, reflected on their positive experiences with the Environmental Literacy Project and their continued use of the afterschool library. The tour ended with participants discussing strategies to incorporate environmental literacy into their own programming.


Who are we?
The Boston Youth Environmental Networkan initiative of Boston After School & Beyond, is a comprehensive system of organizations providing hands-on environmental education and employment opportunities for children and youth.



Our resources and connections help individual providers more effectively engage kids in outdoor learning, academic achievement and career exploration.

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