Southeastern Receives STEM Career Pathway Capacity Grant for New Laboratory
Southeastern students are now learning laboratory procedures in the same type of facility as biotechnology professionals due to a $100,000 Massachusetts Life Sciences (MLSC) Grant received last year. The money helped to build a brand new laboratory in the Environmental and Biotechnology building at the school, which was constructed before the start of this school year. Biotechnology Teacher Heather Stoddard said the lab is providing hands-on learning opportunities that could help students get a head-start in careers such as clinical laboratory technicians and forensic scientists.
“We now have a laboratory that can prepare students for many different careers in a growing industry. And this is now the favorite part of our program for many of them,” she said.
Mrs. Stoddard attended a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Core Training for two weeks last summer. She said students are practicing all the correct lab procedures as professionals, including setting up equipment, keeping notes, following instructions step-by-step, recording information, and following procedures exactly as instructed. This past week, they were testing for nutritional molecules in mock stomach contents with the goal of determining the cause of death of a diabetic woman.
“It’s really interesting. I wasn’t sure if I would like it at first, but now I really do,” said Alex Longacre, of Norton.
Another student, Bridgette Bowyer of Stoughton, is aspiring to work as a microbiologist and eventually own her own laboratory. Besides getting experience at school, she plans to get a co-op job working as a lab assistant at Pharmasol Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization, in South Easton.
“Science is complicated, and that’s what I like about it. It doesn’t have any boundaries and there is always the possibility of discovering new things,” she said.
Mrs. Stoddard said that Alnylam Pharmaceuticals of Norton, which has representation on the Southeastern Environmental and Biotechnology Advisory Board, partnered with the school to assist in getting the grant. She said the partnership has already expanded interest in the field for many of her students and she hopes that the new lab will help prepare more students for co-operative education jobs in the field.
“Many of these companies are in their own back yard, and I want our students to be aware of the possibilities,” she said.
Southeastern Regional is one of 73 schools across the state that have received the recent PLTW STEM Career Pathway Capacity Grant that offer high quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The grant program gives priority to schools in districts that are building STEM pathways across all grade levels. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers through pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. The organization is supported by the Administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, the One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub.