STEM Guides Downeast
Tucked away on the easternmost corner of the U.S, Washington County, Maine is home to just under 32,000 residents spread across an area greater than Delware and Rhode Island combined. Working together to increase student access and engagement in afterschool STEM, three not-for-profit organizations spearheaded the development of the STEM Learning ecosystem here – Axiom Education & Training Center, UMaine Cooperative Extension: 4-H in Washington County, and the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. With funding from the National Science Foundation, they’ve reached out to local STEM education leaders to assess the opportunities and obstacles to growing a STEM learning environment for local youth. Along the way, they have engaged local individuals and institutions to launch a number of exciting out-of-school programs like 4-H STEM Ambassadors, Family Code Night, and Teen Science Cafes, which not only expand opportunities for youth, but also leverage a strong culture of collaboration among community leaders.
STEM Ambassadors – UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H, UMaine Machias, and the EdGE afterschool program are enabling local college students in chemistry and/or environmental science to bring STEM to local afterschool programs (at area K-8 schools). The college students learn to facilitate 4-H STEM kit activities related to their area of study and are paired with an EdGE site over several weeks.
Family Code Night – Through the collaborative efforts of Maine Math & Science Alliance, Axiom Education & Training Center, UMaine Cooperative Extension: 4H, local libraries and local schools, over eight Family Code nights took place in Washington County in the first year this “”Computer Science Week”” program debuted in Maine. Over 70, K-8 students and their parents came out to learn about coding together through a facilitated, one-hour event..
“First Responder” Teen Science Cafe’s – An innovative twist on this national model is making inroads downeast as a fun and social way to introduce highschoolers to meaningful, local STEM careers. Cafe’s organized by UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H and/or Axiom Education & Training Center have been held at local highschools and University of Maine at Machias with NSF funding and support from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance.
- Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance
- Axiom Education & Training Center
- UMaine Cooperative Extension: 4-H, Washington Country Office
- University of Maine at Machias
- Sunrise Economic Development Council
- EdGE Afterschool Programs, Maine Seacoast Mission
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute
- Machias Memorial Highschool
- Downeast Institute
- Washington County Council of Governments