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Newton Public Schools Announces New Partnership with Boston University

"Inspiration ambassadors" from the School of Engineering will work with Newton students.

A new partnership in the Newton Public Schools will soon give students a first-hand look at possible careers and college paths in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

Newton Superintendent David Fleishman and Dean of Boston University’s College of Engineering Kenneth Lutchen announced Monday night a new partnership between the Newton Public Schools and the BU College of Engineering, a program that will bring "inspiration ambassadors" into the math and science classrooms of Newton middle and high schools. 

"Not enough of our best and brightest are understanding what the discipline [of engineering] is," Lutchen said during Monday night's School Committee meeting. "Connecting science and math to technology and engineering -- that's where the BU College of Engineering had to do something."

During Monday's meeting, Lutchen explained that the partnership stemmed from an idea that BU should be creating "societal engineers" who can educate students about the power of engineering and the impact it can make on society. 

The three-year program, which starts this year, aims to "impassion" Newton students K-12 with "inspiration ambassadors" who visit classrooms to mentor and collaborate with students through presentations and hands-on design challenges, according to a press release issued by the Newton Public Schools. 

The ambassadors will also work with teachers and offer professional development that can benefit the district's STEM programs. 

"We're excited about working with you and collaborating with teachers," BU Assistant Dean of Outreach and Diversity Gretchen Fougere said at Monday's meeting.

With tough budget numbers in recent years, the district has made clear its goal of partnering with outside entities and higher education institutions around Newton. In January, the district announced . 

“One of our important system goals is to build partnerships with the many wonderful institutions in our region,” Fleishman said in the NPS press release. “I am thrilled that Boston University’s College of Engineering has demonstrated a real commitment to K-12 education and I know both our students and faculty will benefit from learning more about this field.”

A copy of the press release issued by NPS is included below:

At the school committee meeting Monday, September 10, 2012, David Fleishman, Superintendent of Newton Public Schools, and Dean of Boston University’s College of Engineering, Kenneth Lutchen, announced a partnership that will reinforce the importance of engineering and technology in Newton’s middle and high schools. The three-year plan will offer opportunities for student mentoring, collaboration, and professional development for Newton’s Science, Technology and Engineering educators.

Each year, the College of Engineering selects and professionally trains a cohort of talented undergraduates, who are active in leadership and passionate about technology and engineering, to share their passion and experience with K-12 students. Known as “Inspiration Ambassadors,” these undergrads will guide Newton students through hands-on design challenges and interactive presentations, while offering enthusiastic, first-hand insight into STEM subjects, colleges and career possibilities.

The partnership, which begins this year, will not only provide new venues for learning about engineering and technology, but also connect cutting-edge research and technologies developed at BU to classroom learning and curricula at Newton Public Schools. Boston University will collaborate with Newton’s secondary educators to develop complementary approaches to learning engineering and the design process, as well as workshops and professional development opportunities.

“Joining forces allows us to bring the teachers directly into the partnership,” said Lutchen. “It lets engineering students and Boston University staff work together with Newton teachers in a formal, ongoing way.” Gretchen Fougere, Assistant Dean of Outreach and Diversity for Boston University’s College of Engineering added, “We are very excited about this partnership because it will connect the dots for students between what they are learning and how it is applied to engineering design and technologies which enable our quality of life. Our goal is to raise awareness for the breadth and power of technology and make engineering accessible and exciting.”

“One of our important system goals is to build partnerships with the many wonderful institutions in our region,” David Fleishman remarked. “I am thrilled that Boston University’s College of Engineering has demonstrated a real commitment to K-12 education and I know both our students and faculty will benefit from learning more about this field.”


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