$2 million awarded in grant money for science programming

BOSTON, MA - 3/02/2017: Students walking in front of a science mural from the John D. O'Bryant School for Mathematics and Science. Students L-R Hoang Nguyen, Matthew Wang and McCain Boonma (cq) members of the schools robot club carry their robot to the auditorium for a deomostrtion where the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center was celebrating its allocation of $1.8 million in life sciences capital investments and education for 15 middle and high schools around Greater Boston, including six Boston public schools which included O'Bryant. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 03lifesciences

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Students, walking in front of a science mural at the John D. O'Bryant School for Mathematics and Science, carried their robot Thursday. The students were (from left): Hoang Nguyen, Matthew Wong and McCain Boonma.

A junior at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, McCain Boonma is not only a member of the robotics club, he spends Saturdays at MIT cultivating a love for engineering.

The 17-year-old believes that learning about science, technology, and mathematics should be hands-on. On Thursday, the school received a $186,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to help achieve that goal.


Overall, the center awarded more than $2 million in grants for regional workforce development and STEM education projects across the state. The grants will finance cross-curricular programming, career training, new science equipment, and professional development to help students learn in engaging ways.

Travis McCready, the center’s president, called the grants “the first of many steps.” The next step is a high school apprenticeship program.

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Also receiving grants were Brooke Charter High School in Boston, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, East Boston High School, and Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston.

Matthew Wong, another junior at O’Bryant, has been working with Boonma for the past six weeks to perfect a robot the club built. The students are programming the robot to maneuver a gear-like object, shoot a ball into a goal, and climb a rope for a competition next week, he said.

“[Building a robot] is not like Legos, you have to build most of the pieces yourself,” Wong said.


Boonma and Wong said they want to study engineering in college. After the grants were awarded, club members showcased their robot.

“What’s incredible about this school is that it enables students to teach other students,” Boonma said. “Using high-tech technology, it is possible to enjoy physics and be cool at the same time.”

Kilgannon can be reached at
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