ROCKLAND — Superintendent Alan Cron and John W. Rogers Middle School Principal Cheryl Schipper are pleased to announce that Rockland Public Schools has been awarded a competitive grant through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s STEM Equipment and Professional Development Grant program.
The awards, announced by the Baker-Polito Administration last week, will provide funds to schools to help prepare students for life sciences careers through the purchasing of lab equipment, materials, supplies and technology, as well as provide professional development for teachers that support implementation of advanced curricula and standards alignment.
Rockland Public Schools was awarded $149,781 for equipment and materials and $39,350 for professional development to be shared between Rockland High School and Rogers Middle School.
The Rockland Public School District aims to use the MLSC grant funding to vertically align its life science curricula through the incorporation of the Lab-Aids Core Curriculum for middle school and high school science. The programs were developed with the Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP), which is part of the University of California-Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.
Lab-Aids curricula are based on a guided-inquiry approach and promote the use of scientific principles, processes and evidence in public decision making. The Rockland Public Schools adopted components of the program in 2015, however Lab-Aids has since released third edition materials and hands-on lab activities that more fully align with Next Generation Science Standards. The district seeks a full integration of third edition materials (including all hands-on activities to advance basic science skills) into its existing middle school life science program and high school biology program.
As a new endeavor, the eighth grade science program will incorporate Lab-Aids’ biomedical engineering unit into its current curriculum map. The fifth grade utilizes a separate curriculum; however, components of the 6-8 curriculum will be incorporated so that students become familiar with the pedagogy that will be utilized in grades 6-12. In addition, to further develop student ability and desire to delve deeper into furthering education into the life sciences and pursue life science related careers, the district proposes the enhancement of the curriculum with compound microscopes with digital imagers, stereo microscopes, MiniOne PCR and Electrophoresis systems for teaching hands-on bioscience labs in the classroom, models of human body systems, cell membrane action, enzyme action, DNA central dogma, mitosis and meiosis, as well as telemetry receivers and transmitters.
“Funding from MLSC will revolutionize the way life science is taught in Rockland as students will be fully immersed in what it means to engage in the wonders of science,” said grade 8 science teacher Laura Stracco, who wrote the grant for the award. “Life sciences and related fields will be in high demand as students graduate and prepare to enter the world beyond the classroom, and this type of grant funding will help us better prepare them for that reality.”
Since 2012, the MLSC has awarded $21.5 million to more than 240 high schools and middle schools throughout Massachusetts. This includes more than $20 million in funding for equipment and supplies and nearly $1.2 million for teacher professional development. These awards have leveraged nearly $3 million in cash and in-kind matching funds from industry and non-profit partners.
MLSC STEM equipment and professional development funding has served schools in 13 out of 14 Massachusetts counties and all 26 Gateway Cities, including all 39 vocational-technical high schools with a life sciences program.
“Our administration is committed to supporting the next generation of the life sciences workforce by engaging Massachusetts students in hands-on learning in essential STEM curricula,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With partners like the Life Sciences Center, we are continuing to expand opportunities for students to be exposed early and often to STEM, supporting their development now as learners and as future members of our thriving life sciences workforce.”
For more information on the MLSC STEM Equipment and Professional Development Grant Program, click here.