Science, tech initiative targeting Mass. 6th-graders

A new nonprofit initiative will dispatch professionals from the worlds of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) to sixth-grade classrooms across Massachusetts in an effort to persuade students to consider careers in the fields, reports the Boston Globe. The initiative, called DIGITS, will be unveiled Oct. 20 at the sixth annual STEM Summit in Sturbridge, Mass., which explores ways to improve STEM education. While Massachusetts students perform well on standardized tests related to math and science, they do not seem drawn to careers that rely on those skills: This year, 22 percent of students who took the SAT in Massachusetts said they planned to pursue a STEM career, compared with 28 percent nationally. The program is supported by $260,000 in grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Joyce Plotkin, president emerita of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, says the program will focus on sixth-graders, because her research has shown that by seventh grade, "kids were already negative on careers in math and science. But sixth-graders weren’t. We’re trying to counteract the nerd image by introducing them to people who actually work in these fields." Nearly 50 companies, including Raytheon and Google, have agreed to support the new initiative by encouraging their employees to volunteer…

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