Above: Somerville STEAM/Innovation Learning Specialist Lindsay Tosches guides an East Somerville Community School student through an experiment.
As an environmental educator, Jess Bloomer knows the importance of getting children outside and interacting with nature.
And thanks to a new partnership with the team from the Lesley STEAM Learning Lab and Lesley professors, her instruction has blossomed.
“We had been working with young people in the garden, but we had never delved deep into the technology and engineering side of things,” said Bloomer, deputy director of Groundwork Somerville, who collaborated with Lesley to develop a program centered on pollinators. “The Lesley University team has really been able to bring that dimension. It’s been amazing.”
Bloomer’s organization and the children it serves benefit from a major grant-funded project launched in 2018 called the STAR Initiative, through which Lesley University and other grantees are working to enhance science and math education in Cambridge and Somerville.
Through the initiative, Lesley professors Susan Rauchwerk and Nicole Weber worked with two teachers and their students from Cambridge High School Extension Program, a non-traditional public school. They developed a sheep-brain dissection project, partnering with a local neuroscientist to explore how different disorders affect the brain. The high school students came to Lesley to conduct the dissection in a campus science laboratory.
“We thought that the kids would be interested in how different disorders affect your body, like depression. It was a great way to engage them in thinking,” said Dr. Rauchwerk, who presented on the project during a recent showcase. “It really sustained their attention and they were all in.”