Whereas, Massachusetts, and the nation as a whole, is falling behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering) education, as compared to global statistics, the Massachusetts DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has recently supported the need to enhance 21st Century Skills training in STEM fields within public schools; therefore, this bill establishes the STEM inquiry course of instruction, during or outside of school hours, and authorizes school districts to obtain and utilize funds from outside sources.
Section 1. Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws is hereby amended by adding Section 90, as follows:
Each school district shall develop and implement a plan to include inquiry based instruction for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related fields taught in public schools; such plans may include required involvement in extracurricular programs or projects outside of normal school hours. These programs may be funded from sources outside of town or school budgets, such as non-profit grants or donations from local businesses. Inquiry based instruction projects may include science fairs, robotics fairs and other programs involving creative thinking, communications skills and other inquiry 21st Century Skills, as defined by the MA DESE.
School districts shall supplement their professional development programs, as defined in Chapter 71, Section 38Q, with relevant courses and workshops offered by various institutions throughout the state, e.g. the course 'Teaching Science through the Inquiry Process,' offered by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair through the University of Massachusetts.
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