Young People Talk about STEM at Boys & Girls Clubs

 May 9, 2017

STEM Next aims to make STEM come alive for young people, so they can discover their interests and passions and gain valuable skills for the future.

One key strategy for STEM Next is to leverage existing systems, for example, we invest in the capacity of national youth organizations to offer high-quality, hands-on STEM experiences after school. STEM Next supports Imagine Science, a collaboration among the National 4-H Council, Girls, Inc., YMCA of the USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to bring STEM to the 18 million youth they collectively serve each year.

In addition, STEM Next and the Noyce Foundation have supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s STEM initiative and other efforts to develop quality STEM programming at their 4,000 Clubs nationwide.

Recently we looked in on one Club to get a sense for how engaging in STEM activities there impacts young people. The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (Massachusetts) has been building its portfolio of STEM programs since 2009. Currently, young people participate in:

  • Computer science – app and game development
  • Environmental education projects, including raising trout, beekeeping, and producing maple syrup
  • Robotics through FIRST and other robotic competitions
  • Chemistry through cooking
  • Engineering, physics and machines

BGCA Fitchburgg & Leominster, First Robotics Winning Team

We asked the young people what participating in STEM means to them. Their answers validate our belief that high-quality STEM learning equips young people with key skills and capacities to succeed in life – no matter their chosen path. Listen to what they told us:

Hazel, age 10: “Robotics is really fun because we get to think of an idea, test it out. At first our ideas don’t work and we keep playing around with them until they do. We learn to work together and not just to have one person do everything. And we also learn to take our time and be patient because it’s not always going to work on the first try.”

Dean, age 12: “First we have to work together. We need to be good communicators. We learn how to trust people. We work together to code and each of us also built a part of the robot. I was a bit nervous but we have done pretty well!

Jonathan, age 15: “I have learned basic programming and how to design an app. The more I use the program, the more I teach myself. It’s a long process if you want your app to be really good and you want people to enjoy it and recommend it to others. You can’t rush it – you have to think, go over it many times. You also need an outside view. You might think one thing but when you have people test it they see it differently and can give you good suggestions. There are so many steps to making a good app or game. We sit down and come up with a topic. We brainstorm, make a prototype, add more details and plan it out. Our game cheers people up and teaches them math, science and history at the same time. We all got together to present our apps in front of judges who are professionals from our community. The judges gave us advice about improving our apps and we have done it.”

Eric, age 15: “This is not just about building a robot, it’s about life lessons – working on a team, being able to problem solve. We brainstorm in the first week…we learn how to argue with each other – it’s good for the end result. It’s hectic and tense, but if you are challenged to defend your idea, it gets better.

Olivia, age 18: “Being a member of the robotics team helped me realize that I am interested in how different mechanisms go together and how things function. So it’s shaped my career goals. Now I am going to be a biomedical engineer and create better prosthetics.”

Boys & Girls Club director, Donata Martin, noted that since she assumed leadership of the Club, her vision has centered around STEM. “Kids love science, and they don’t have enough time during the school day to explore it. But they have all those hours in the afternoon. We start out with homework and snack, and then it’s off to programs.” Martin offers five key lessons for other after-school programs exploring STEM:

  1. Ask the young people what they are interested in. Start out simple. There is so much you can do right around you. For example, we tapped our maple trees and made syrup – and in doing that, we talked about local folklore and history.”
  2. Partner with the business community. They are interested in what we do because we are developing the workforce for the future. Let them know what you are doing, bring in volunteers to teach, and have your staff work with the volunteers and learn alongside the youth.
  3. Ask the staff and invest in their professional development. We are always asking our staff what they are interested in and sending them to trainings that they want to go to – they come back eager to roll out programs. For example, now we are beekeeping! We’ve extracted 75 pounds of honey. Like the kids, we make mistakes, and then we learn and try again.
  4. Take the kids into the community on field trips so they can see what kinds of careers are there. Find them internships in their fields of interest, expose them to new experiences that broaden their horizons.”

BGCA Fitchburg & Leominster, Youth beekeepers

We are looking forward to keeping up with this Club as they continue to develop the next generation of our STEM innovators. For more about the Boys & Girls Club of America STEM program, click here.


Author: Kathleen Traphagen

One day just to give back to community

By Amanda Burke,

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has one mission: Serve the children.

Sometimes, that means day-to-day building upkeep falls through the cracks.

But not on Thursday, when about 40 employees from international real-estate firm Keller Williams dug out their gardening gloves or grabbed a drill to help the youth development organization tidy up for spring.
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All those papers. All those tests. They earned it.

Cheers all around as area seniors receive chamber scholarships

By Elizabeth Dobbins,
UPDATED:   05/13/2017 06:32:29 AM EDT

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS scholarship recipients at the North Central Mass. Chamber of Commerce Good Morning Scholarship Breakfast on Friday.

With them, from left, are seniors Laura Jenny, Mark Pothier, Alivia Burns, John Gove, Kristen Maguy and Kyleigh Olivier. See slide show at SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — The achievements of the 24 students presented scholarships at the “Good Morning” breakfast had many local leaders lightheartedly taking another look at their own credentials Friday morning.
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North End Subaru does its Share for Boys & Girls Clubs

LUNENBURG – Subaru of America Inc. and North End Subaru on Friday presented a check for $22,071 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/Leominster and Lunenburg as part of the 2016 Subaru Share the Love event.

From Nov. 17 to Jan. 3, customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle could select from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from Subaru of America.

This year, for the first time throughout the life of the program, there was no cap on the total donation from Subaru of America to its Share the

Love charitable partners. By the end of this year’s event, Subaru hopes to reach a grand total of nearly $90 million donated since the creation of Share the Love.

For 2016, Subaru of America selected the four national charities ASPCA, Make- A- Wish, Meals on Wheels America and the National Park Foundation. Subaru retailers could also elect to add a local charity, and North End Subaru selected the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/ Leominster and Lunenburg as its ” hometown charity.”

The check was presented to the local Boys & Girls Clubs by Martin Babineau, dealer principal of North End Subaru.

Central MA Science Festival picks up steam

LEOMINSTER – It was full STEAM ahead on a sunny Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for the fourth annual Central MA Science Festival.

The popular, free event highlights the importance of STEAM-related learning (STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and there were plenty of hands-on exhibits for the more than 500 visitors who had come through by 1 p.m., with another two hours to go, volunteer Kelly A. Hartnett said. Read more…

Go Fundme – Support our TerrorBots FRC Team 3623

Since establishing the team in 2011, the TerrorBots have been gaining momentum each season. From being named “Rookie of the Year” in 2011 to “New England District Event Champs” and “Team Spirit Award” at Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) this past March, the team of 15 students from 7 schools and 6 mentors, along with their families and community sponsors, are ecstatic to see all of their hard work and dedication come to fruition.

The expenses for traveling to St. Louis are immense. Costs include: registration, flights and hotels, shipping fees for our robot and materials, and more.

We are reaching out to our community for their support to allow the TerrorBots to compete in the World Championships!

All donations will directly benefit the trip.  Click here to donate today.

YUMMM! Visions of Food at AVAM

Bret McCabe
February 21, 2017

Ruby C. WilRuby C. Williams, "Farm Boy with a Duck." Part of Yummm! at AVAM.liams sells produce at a stand along Florida’s State Road 60, which runs east-west through the Sunshine State from Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, through Tampa, and on to Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast. She hand-paints signs to entice passing motorists to stop, and her advertisements are rendered in bright acrylic paint on board. Sometimes they’re simple—an orange circle on a matte grey background cheerily offering “sweet orange Florida’s best” or a bold red circle with a short green stem and leaves announcing “farm tomatoes.” Other signs deliver an almost aphoristic uplift, such as a green and gold flower surrounded by text that reads, “It’s getting better,” or a portrait of a woman in blue on gold board that suggests, “It’s a great thing to love someone.”
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A look at 20 local people who helped make 2016 memorable

For the seventh year, the Sentinel & Enterprise is looking back at the people who won our hearts, stimulated our minds and piqued our curiosity over the past 12 months.

These local people — among them politicians, public servants, professors, performers and community advocates — helped make 2016 memorable.

1. Kevin Roy

Roy’s quick response to a fire in the early hours of Feb. 10 earned the Fitchburg Fire Chief and 41-year department veteran a Medal of Valor during the Firefighter of the Year awards this November.

When a fire started in a house at 174 Walton St., Roy could see the blaze from his home.

He entered the duplex and pulled an unconscious 60-year-old man to safety.

Read more…

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