A new Federal grant will link arts centers and science communication in a unique partnership to get Maine’s girls excited about STEM careers through Augmented Reality. FILE PHOTO

A new Federal grant will link arts centers and science communication in a unique partnership to get Maine’s girls excited about STEM careers through Augmented Reality. FILE PHOTO

YORK COUNTY — A new Federal grant will link arts centers and science communication to get Maine’s girls excited about STEM careers through Augmented Reality.

The National Science Foundation has awarded the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and their partners at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Sciences, Harvard University, Oregon State University, and University of Wisconsin Madison grants of $1 million. 

All sites chosen for this project will be right here in Maine. In the coming months, arts organizations across the state will be able apply to join the project, access funds to implement the project, and participate in professional development to host summer institutes for girls starting in 2018. 
 
Girl ARTs (Augmented Reality Toward Science): will target 112 rural art-oriented young Maine women (15-18 years old) with no prior interest in science. It partners them with scientists and media designers to create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences focused on science questions and issues relevant to their local community and environment. 
 
AR technology superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. This project takes AR, which is an emerging learning platform that takes the mobility and fun of a game like Pokemon Go, and leverages that power for science learning. It is an excellent tool that allows the cross-over between art, science and technology.
 
“This is a fabulous opportunity to boost the confidence of young women who do not see themselves as ‘science-types’, opening the door for them to consider a science or technology related career pathway.  We will also be researching the strategies that scientists can use to better communicate their science to the communities that can use it the most to inform their decision making” says Principal Investigator and MMSA Executive Director, Dr. Ruth Kermish-Allen.
 
MMSA is a non-profit education organization that serves the education community through the whole state and beyond.

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing nationally at 17 percent, while other occupations are growing at 9.8 percent.

STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas.

It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Despite these compelling facts, mathematics and science scores on average among U.S. students are lagging behind other developing countries.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and is important because it involves every part of our lives. Science is everywhere in the world around us.

Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. Engineering is the basic designs of roads and bridges, but also tackles the challenges of changing global weather and environmentally-friendly changes to our home. Mathematics is in every occupation, every activity we do in our lives.

By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM-related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and hopefully pursue a job in a STEM field. A curriculum that is STEM-based has real-life situations to help the student learn. Programs like Girl ARTs (Augmented Reality Toward Science) integrates multiple classes to provide opportunities to see how concepts relate to life in order to hopefully spark a passion for a future career in a STEM field.

STEM activities provide hands-on and minds-on lessons for the student. Making math and science both fun and interesting helps the student to do much more than just learn.

You can read more about the Maine project at https://mmsa.org/girl-arts-project/
 


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