Governor Charlie Baker and other officials on Monday kicked off the state’s 2020 virtual STEM week to highlight education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
This year’s STEM week, held virtually, is being presented in collaboration with MIT.
“Massachusetts is enormously lucky to have MIT among the constellation of amazing colleges and universities that are part of this Commonwealth,” Baker said during his remarks. “The opportunity it creates for knowledge, the opportunity it creates for discovery, the opportunity it creates for research, and the number of sort of big leaps and small steps into our future that come out of places like MIT here in the Commonwealth not only provides a significant amount of jobs and opportunity for people in Massachusetts, but also provides an incredible collection of ideas, gadgets, and solutions that ultimately end up being a big part of the way the world works.”
Cynthia Breazeal, associate director of the MIT Media Lab, also delivered opening remarks and highlighted the work her team has been doing to develop curriculum for students and teachers centered around artificial intelligence, or AI, and AI literacy.
The message of this year’s 2020 STEM week, she said, is for students to “see yourself in STEM."
“This is the world, honestly, right now our children are growing up in,” Breazeal said. “They are touching and using AI every day,” often without realizing it, by using social media platforms such as YouTube and snapchat. “We want our citizens to be able to use AI responsibly.”
Brezeal said teachers can use AI curriculum posted online at aieducation.mit.edu/ in their classrooms free of charge.
This year’s Massachusetts STEM Week runs from Monday through Friday and includes a daily webinar on robotics, among many other virtual offerings, according to the official website for the third-annual celebration.
“It is a statewide effort to boost the interest, awareness and ability for all learners to envision themselves in STEM education and employment opportunities,” says the website for the program. “The theme for the third annual statewide STEM Week is ‘See Yourself in STEM,’ with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. Women, people of color, first-generation students, low-income individuals, English language learners, and people with disabilities are underrepresented in STEM industries and make up an increasing portion of the overall workforce, but the demographics of STEM fields have remained largely the same.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito also gave opening remarks and said STEM training has been at the forefront of virtually every aspect of the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether it was a science background or a technical background, it clearly was so important to all of us as we responded during the height of the pandemic,” Polito said.