050 | bostem: how communities can collaborate to create high-quality stem learning opportunities | with julia kilgore & joe rosenbaum

050 | BoSTEM: How Communities Can Collaborate to Create High-Quality STEM Learning Opportunities | with Julia Kilgore & Joe Rosenbaum

BoSTEM is, as the name suggests, a collaborative effort throughout the City of Boston that aims to ensure that every middle-school student in Boston Public Schools has access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities. The initiative is focused on engaging sixth, seventh and eighth graders and inspiring them to be the next generation of STEM professionals. They chose to focus on middle schoolers because that’s the age when kids are losing interest at the fastest rate, and there’s also a lack of programs or support during that period of time.

And this is a problem that we see everywhere we go, even in our own programs. If we can’t capture the interest of those kiddos in middle school, it’s really tough — if not impossible — to climb that hill and get them genuinely interested in STEM subjects and careers.

Our guests today represent the two organizations that partnered up to start BoSTEM: Julia Kilgore is the Director of STEM at Boston After School and Beyond and Joe Rosenbaum is the Project Director of BoSTEM at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. 

These two and their organizations play a critical role in organizing things behind the scenes so that STEM learning opportunities are accessible to teachers and students alike. They make sure that no one participating has to worry about when the bus is going to show up or how to schedule time with corporate partners — and there’s a lot that just about every community in the country can learn from this type of collaborative partnership.

We unbox:

  • Why we need collaborative endeavors like BoSTEM to engage and support kids both inside and outside of schools
  • What can we do to prevent middle schoolers from becoming disinterested in STEM?
  • Why both formal and informal educators need organizations like United Way to provide critical logistics and connections, especially for activities outside of the school setting
  • The constant struggle for both schools and community / corporate partners to get what they need out of these partnerships
  • What goes into designing high-quality STEM activities
  • Influencing formal education through informal initiatives
  • Expanding professional development opportunities that offer a glimpse of real-world STEM applications
  • Helping kiddos sample enough experience to find something they’re passionate about
  • Resources that BoSTEM and partners have created (and will create) that can be used anywhere

Resources: