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Grant Expands Science and Technology Outreach

With the help of a recent grant from the state Board of Education for $313,262, Smith, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Greenfield Community College (GCC), will increase a host of interdisciplinary and interactive programs that engage K-12 teachers and students in science, engineering and technology.

The grant is part of a $3.3 million allotment from the state education board’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Pipeline Fund, an initiative aimed at increasing student interest and teacher preparation in STEM subjects.

Over the past three years, with the support of the Ford Motor Company and the GE Foundation, Smith has offered summer professional development institutes in STEM to more than 70 elementary, middle and high school educators from urban, rural and suburban schools throughout the Pioneer Valley. A particular focus of these workshops has been familiarizing teachers with the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks, then providing them with hands-on experiences and established resources to address the frameworks in their classrooms.

“Given Smith’s expertise in founding the nation’s first engineering program for women, these summer workshops have had an intensive focus on developing an understanding of the engineering design process, promoting equity within the STEM classroom, encouraging females and minority students in STEM study, and becoming familiar with engineering as a pedagogical tool that integrates various academic disciplines and provides a mechanism for contextual learning,” said Gail Scordilis, director of educational outreach at Smith, who collaborated on the grant proposal. 

The new grant links Smith’s ongoing outreach efforts to a National Science Foundation project at UMass and GCC called “STEM Research Academies for Young Scientists” (STEMRAYS). “Through our collaboration with our higher ed partners in the valley, we hope to work even more intensively with middle school science and technology teachers and students,” said Scordilis. 

Specifically, the grant will provide funding for the professional development of teachers and after-school enrichment programs in STEM subjects for students at Northampton’s John F. Kennedy Middle School and Amherst Regional Middle School.

Thomas Gralinski, retired head of the Amherst Regional High School Computer Science, Business and Technology Department, who now serves as the K-12 Engineering Curriculum Specialist in Smith’s Office of Educational Outreach, will be Smith’s liaison to these schools and to others throughout Franklin County for this project. “An award-winning and gifted teacher, Tom has extensive experience in the pre-engineering and technology classroom,” said Scordilis. “His in-depth understanding of the curriculum frameworks will ensure that students and teachers in and around the Smith community receive heightened access to high-quality resources in science, engineering and technology.”

For more information about the STEM grant and other outreach efforts in the sciences and engineering at Smith, click here, or contact the Office of Educational Outreach, ext. 3060, or

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