Importance of STEM education promoted to Springfield students - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Importance of STEM education promoted to Springfield students

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Students from three Springfield high schools were encouraged to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) on Wednesday as part of the statewide "Go Public!" campaign.

"People get turned away from STEM because they find it a little harder than the other subjects but it is all about applying yourself," said Ariana Barrenchechea, a senior at UMass Amherst.

Barrenchechea is one of six speakers from local colleges that came to address 450 students from area schools at the event.

State data currently shows a lack of interest in the so-called STEM fields as compared to students in other states. That's why programs like the one held on Wednesday are hoping to help close the gap and get kids interested in these fields where many opportunities are available.

"I am a woman in engineering, and right now mechanical engineering at UMass Amherst is 12 percent women. I felt the need to encourage both women and underserved high schoolers to not think they are not good enough," said Barrenchechea.

The "Go Public!" campaign is promoting the STEM fields at the state's 29 public college campuses.

"It's really important for our students to look at the careers that are being built for the future," said Robert Dais, the statewide director of Gear Up Massachusetts.

The event was sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Gear Up which is a federally funded program aimed at helping low-income students get into college.

"The hands-on stuff like how they have the blood drive thing, I just participated in that and really I never wanted to be a nurse or anything but it makes me think differently about going into a career about that," said Springfield Central High School senior Eric Racine.

Many students who attended say programs like this emphasize the importance of getting a good education.

"It can help me in the long run in the future, you know, because I really like expensive things so I'd like to be able to get a good job so I'll be able to buy that stuff," said Springfield Central High School senior Chancellor Devin Green.

Gov. Deval Patrick taped a special message for the students attending the event urging them to complete four years of high school math and three years of science in preparation for college.

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