Category Archives: Great ideas

A Guide for Developing STEM Clubs

The Arizona STEM Network is in its third year of promoting and funding STEM Clubs with supplies, teacher stipends, and professional development.  After starting with pilots in 11 schools, it aims to have 200 clubs in Arizona schools by the end of this year.  This collaboration of business, educators, elected officials, and philanthropic organizations has prepared on online STEM Club Guide for teachers, administrators, and funders to develop clubs, both in and outside Arizona.

Wellesley STEM Expo — Video Recap and Lessons Learned

Back on April 5, about 3,500 people attended the first Wellesley STEM Expo, presented by the Wellesley Education Foundation.  Anyone who would like to have a similar event in Newton may be interested in this video of the Wellesley event as well as these lessons learned (as reported by the Wellesley STEM Expo committee to the MetroWest STEM Education Network Advisory Board):

  • Establish a clear vision and committed group as the planning committee
  • Recruit more volunteers than you expect to need — because you will need them
  • Publicity is critical
  • Create a teen advisory committee during the planning phase and create a strong social media presence
  • Generous sponsors are essential

Newton North Science Team Raising Funds Through Odd Jobs

The Newton North Science Team is raising money for team expenses by doing small jobs such as leaf raking, snow shoveling, wall painting, wallpaper removal, etc.  Hours are fairly flexible and prices are negotiable.  The money raised helps to offset team expenses including competition registration fees, textbooks, and materials for “build-ahead” events.  The team pays for all tools and materials that are used for the Science Olympiad competition, including carbon fiber, wood, metal, saws, drills, screws, etc.  The final cost for one academic year for the Olympiad alone is usually between $2000 and $3000. Please contact the team about fundraisers at

Come See NNHS InvenTeam’s Life-Saving Invention, March 28

Come see what Newton can invent — and see how you can help!  The NewtonSTEM community is invited to Newton North HS at 5PM on March 28 for the InvenTeam’s presentation of its invention — a Pedestrian Alert System to save lives in Ethiopia.  The team is one of 16 nationwide to win a grant of $10,000 for experimenting and prototyping for its invention.   The team now seeks local sponsors to help fund actual fabrication.  (You can donate online to help the team meet its goal.)  The event will be held in Room 121 (Design & Visual Communications Technology Lab) of Newton North HS, 457 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA.

Notes from the Mass. STEM Summit: Focus on Instilling STEM Identity

The statewide Massachusetts STEM Summit was held Oct. 18 at Gillette Stadium, with 1200 attendees.

  • Astronaut Cady Coleman, in her keynote, spoke of the need not just to inform and inspire, but to help students — particularly girls and under-represented minorities — to identify as STEM folks, to see themselves in STEM careers.
  • The Girl Scouts noted a survey showing that 74% of girls state an interest in STEM, but only 13% say they are considering a STEM career.
  • Science Club for Girls enrolls not only community volunteers but also “near-peer” mentors, who learn to see themselves as people who can talk and teach STEM as they work with K-6th Grade students.
  • Milton High School’s technology club teaches 4th-5th graders in a four-day summer session on robotics — raising money for the high-school program, inspiring the next generation of kids, and teaching the high schoolers a bit about teaching.
  • Boston University runs the Artemis Project (a five-week summer program in which Computer Science undergraduate women introduce rising 9th grade girls to computer science) and a one-week Summer Pathways program (for rising Juniors and Senior girls to explore STEM careers).
  • And it was good to hear Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Paul Reville, speak of his visit to the Innovation Lab at Newton North HS last February.

Newton Public Schools brings in BU STEM Inspiration Ambassadors

Earlier this year, Newton Public Schools announced a three-year partnership with Boston University’s School of Engineering to bring BU engineering undergraduates into Newton classrooms as Inspiration Ambassadors, to engage and mentor middle-school and high-school students.  The undergraduates are professionally trained for these roles to guide hands-on design challenges and host interactive presentations.  The College of Engineering will also work with Newton’s teachers in workshops and professional development opportunities.  The BU Technology Inspiration Scholars Program has worked with over 2,200 students in twelve states.

Engaging 6th Graders in STEM at Oak Hill

Norma Sullivan, 6th grade math/science teacher at Oak Hill MS, believes kids need to get the STEM bug by the end of middle school — ideally by the end of 6th grade. She’s doing her part. Besides her LIFT2 professional learning program and summer internship and her classes’ early participation in the DIGITS program, she is engaging her students to explore STEM careers with these ideas: Continue reading

Bigelow Middle School Holds Final Bionic Arm Competition

Bigelow MS’s year-end competition to design and build a remote-controlled Bionic Arm shows one facet of how STEM is being taught in Newton’s middle schools. Students were challenged to design and build a prosthetic arm that would lift and place an object. Each arm is entirely remote-controlled by 4 hydraulic pistons – one to control each axis to make the arm lift, reach, grab, and rotate. In the year-end challenge, 4 teams of 4 students in each class competed in a tournament to “shoot hoops” with the robotic arms they created.
Bigelow Robotic Arm Challenge Continue reading

Robotics is Under Way at Oak Hill Middle School!

This spring, Oak Hill MS formed a new after-school Robotics Club, the MegaOHMS.  About 20 students from all three grades joined together each Monday afternoon to plan, design, build, and program Lego robots to tackle the season’s challenge —navigating the tricky “Oak Hill Harbor”, avoiding many obstacles while deploying buoys and positioning life boats.  Oak Hill Robotics Team -- The MegaOHMS Continue reading

Khan Academy: Free, Online STEM Education Videos

Salman Khan has created a growing library of over 2000 engaging educational videos — all free on YouTube — in arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, history, finance, economics.  See for the entire library, including 9-minute video overview of all of it.

Sal’s recent 20-minute TED talk (video) explains how he aims to revolutionize and invert education (i.e., lectures will be at home via video, and what was once homework will be done in school), with each student progressing at his/her own pace and teachers coaching individuals and small groups. Continue reading