I had the opportunity to sit down with the Maine Math & Science Alliance (MMSA) team recently to talk about the wonderful work they do helping to prepare Maine’s workforce of the future. MMSA works directly with educators throughout Maine and beyond, providing training and professional development to better equip them to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in more meaningful and compelling ways. The organization’s mission is to “find inspiring new ways to get people excited about STEM today so that our youth can become the innovators, problem solvers, and workforce of tomorrow.”
Given MMSA’s alignment with MTI’s core mission to “diversify and grow Maine’s economy by encouraging, promoting, stimulating, and supporting innovation and its transformation into new products, services, and companies, leading to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Maine,” we have partnered with them to help raise aspirations and inspire Maine’s youth about the opportunities in the STEM fields. Their efforts also calibrate well with the state’s ten-year economic development strategy which is appropriately titled, “A Focus on Talent and Innovation.” That plan specifically talks about the need to better prepare Maine students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are aligned to the growth of the digital economy. It also emphasizes that we need to invest in educator preparation and professional development to improve outcomes in pre-K through 12 education in Maine.
That, of course, is precisely the role MMSA plays, with the support of the National Science Foundation, as well as funding from corporate and philanthropic donors, and it is an incredibly vital responsibility. The Maine Technology Institute has been honored to partner with MMSA on its delivery of the annual Maine State Science Fair, which is open to all Maine students. The Science Fair allows students to present their work to fellow learners and STEM experts. Prizes and, perhaps most importantly, college scholarships are offered, including a dozen full-tuition scholarships to UMaine, a half-dozen full-tuition scholarships to the University of Southern Maine, as well as lucrative and meaningful scholarships to the University of New England, Saint Joseph’s College, University of Maine at Augusta, and UMaine’s College of Engineering. In total, almost 35 scholarships were earned and awarded at the Science Fair in 2023!
The projects presented at the 2023 Science Fair were simply amazing. Here is a sampling of the project names for some of the winners:
- An Antimicrobial Bacterial Cellulose Manuka Honey Wound Dressing that Detects Infection
- The Effects of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and Mushroom Substrate on the Plant Growth and Soil Characteristics
- Which areas of computer science have the most significant impact on inspiring girls to participate in the STEM fields?
The Maine State Science Fair is a cooperative program of MMSA and the Jackson Laboratory, and also receives support from businesses and organizations. For those interested in learning more about the Maine Science Fair, MMSA is holding a Fall Kick-off event on Tuesday, October 24 at the University of Maine at Augusta. There will be opportunities to talk with teachers and students, explore opportunities to partner, and listen to an exciting keynote presenter, Paige Brocidiacono, a former MSSF participant who started her own company. I encourage you to check it out.
My thanks to MMSA’s Executive Director Ruth Kermish-Allen, and her Board and team, for all they do to help Maine achieve its strategic economic goals by better preparing Maine pre-K through grade 12 pupils for the jobs of tomorrow and investing in educator preparation and professional development to improve student outcomes. Kudos!!