By: J. Chevonte’ Alexander
There is no doubt that there is a great need for talented scientists and engineers.
Research has shown that early exposure to science, sale technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives and activities positively impact a child’s life, perceptions and dispositions. By capturing students’ interests in STEM content at an earlier age, a proactive approach can ensure that students are on track through middle and high school to complete the necessary coursework for adequate preparation to enter STEM degree programs at institutions of higher learning. As a result, programs focusing on STEM initiatives and content are a growing priority in American schools with aims to provide early exposure for elementary students.
In 2009, the United States Department of Labor listed the ten most wanted employees. Eight of those employees were ones with degrees in the STEM fields: accounting, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information sciences and systems, computer engineering, civil engineering, and economics and finance. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while others are growing at 9.8%.
STEM careers are clearly fueling our regional economy. STEM education is so important.
And, the MathScience Innovation Center is doing just that, and has been for almost 50 years right here in Richmond, Virginia.
Coming up Interstate 64, you may notice the MathScience Innovation Center (MSiC) interstate sign, but there are still some people out there who do not know what MSiC is and what they do.
Building on a rich legacy of innovation, begun by the first Director of the MathScience Innovation Center, Dr. Robert C. Haynes, Sr., the MSiC is a leader in the Greater Richmond region in K-12 STEM education.
MSiC is in the business of producing kids who love Math and Science.
Click here to see how you can get involved and what MSiC does to bridge those disparities and gaps in the Richmond region.
Dr. Haynes’ vision for the center is “to provide experiences for young people that would influence their lives.” Since the inception of the MSiC, Dr. Haynes, Dr. Wesley Batten, Mrs. Elizabeth Waring, Dr. Julia Cothron, and Mr. Douglas Childers have all worked to continue his legacy and develop the MathScience Innovation Center into a place of wonder, excitement, rigor, and innovation for students, families, educators, and community members.
“For almost 50 years, the MSiC continues to provide state-of-the-art programming that engages families in hands-on learning activities that push your thinking and inspire scientific and mathematical exploration.” comments Dr. Hollee Freeman, Director of the MathScience Innovation Center.
The MathScience Innovation Center was founded in 1966 as the Mathematics & Science Center and is one of the oldest examples of regional partnerships in the metro Richmond area. The MSiC is a valuable asset in the research, development, and implementation of “cutting edge” student and educator STEM programs in Central Virginia.
Listed as one of the top workplaces by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the mission of the MSiC is to provide extraordinary K-12 educational experiences for students and educators by igniting interest and learning in STEM. Their programs have an important and direct impact on 1) increasing student interest in STEM content and careers; 2) increasing the content and pedagogical knowledge of teachers; and 3) providing a pathway and pipeline for the community with a more knowledgeable and skilled group of individuals who are college and career ready.
On any given day, Monday through Saturday, students involved in MSiC activities may be found fishing for organisms on the James River, exploring the use of nanoscience in medicine, analyzing the mathematics in architecture, or using 3D printers to develop usable prosthetic hands. Students have the opportunity to get “up close and personal”, working alongside national and internationally acclaimed scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
It is without a doubt that the MathScience Innovation Center is making a difference for K-12 children in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, and surrounding counties. Its mission is to be the innovator, incubator, and advocate of 21st century math and science programs for the Capital region’s K-12 educators and students.
It is without a doubt that the MSiC is a resource in our community that can make a difference in the education and employment future of our kids. The MSiC works with over 130,000 students and 3,000 teachers in the 13 school divisions. They teach more than 100 specialized lessons in classrooms and at the center. They also offer a wide variety of Saturday classes, summer camps, and conferences.
“Our work at the MSiC provides high quality Math and Science lessons in a way that is interesting and fun for the students. They actually enjoy the learning process – that makes working here very rewarding.” commented Bill Sorey, MSiC Faculty.
MSiC in a nutshell…
Who we are
- Oldest example of regional partnerships in the Metro Richmond Area (8 full consortium school divisions, 5 institutional member school divisions, 48 year history)
- Community organization dedicated to the development of futuristic STEM programs for Central Virginia’s K-12 students, educators and school counselors
- Capacity-building workforce development program which works with school divisions, community, and business partners to prepare K-12 students and educators for 21st century skills
- Leader in developing programs for students, educators, and parents based on cutting edge STEM ideas from industry and education. These programs occur during the school day, out-of-school time, Saturdays, and summers
What we do
- Classroom and Center-based STEM/SOL focused lessons (approx. 130,000 students and 3,000 teachers annually)
- Virtual STEM lessons for elementary, middle, and high school classes (approx. 1,000,000 visitors annually)
- Summer camps, conferences, and volunteer opportunities for elementary, middle, and high school students
- Professional Development Fellows Programs and conferences for educators (Nanoscience, Fractals, Inquiry and Rigor, Engineering, to name a few)
- Saturday programs (parent/child, elementary, middle, and high school students)
- Partner with numerous community and business organizations in Central Virginia
Where we are going
- Continuing to provide timely, rigorous, and futuristic content and curriculum to school divisions
- Increasing our advanced manufacturing, nanoscience, biomedical sciences, computer science, and ‘green’ STEM related lessons and courses for students and teachers
- Building on our distance learning work through new lessons and courses
- Provide a theoretical (research-based) and practical (teaching-based) lens to high-level teaching and learning processes in the region
- Collect and share data on our work
“There were tons of awesome ‘above and beyond’ lessons that incorporate creativity, problem-solving skills, cooperation, and other 21st century skills.” commented a teacher who participated in the K-2 STEM Workshop.
The SOL and inquiry-based programs offered by MSiC have proven over and over again to be academically rigorous and engaging. By taking advantage of robust partnerships with colleges and universities, as well as businesses and community organizations, the MSiC is able to offer students experiences such as: exploring the ecosystems of the James River or the pond on the MSiC campus, touring the nanofiber tissue engineering labs at VCU, discovering the power of a roaming robot and the intricacy of a spider’s web, and studying the dynamic nature of cryogenics or mathematical patterns in nature and architecture.
“The MSiC, a strong example of regionalism in Central Virginia, provides an incredible resource which allows our teachers, students, and community opportunities to collaborate and engage in the worlds of science and mathematics. As a parent and educator, I value the opportunities this regional partnership affords our children.” says Dr. Jamelle Wilson, Superintendent of Hanover County Public Schools and Chair of the MathScience Innovation Center Governing Board.
Camp Innovation: STEM Summers to Remember
Camp Innovation is the MSiC ‘s largest student program. This day program offers classes for students going into 4th grade through 9th grade. Each summer, over 1,000 students participate in week-long classes with topics ranging from biology to exploring mathematical functions. Packed with adventure, creativity, exploration, and design; each class offers students an opportunity to dive more deeply into a myriad of 21st century topics. MSiC also has new additional after-camp classes for those who want an added afternoon adventure. Camp Innovation is a worthwhile summer experience. New for 2014 are three new full-day classes and their new Junior Master Gardener class, a two-week, full-day class. Click here to register for Camp Innovation.
Metro Richmond STEM Fair
The Metro Richmond STEM Fair, held annually, is Central Virginia’s regional qualifying fair for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) and the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Students in grades 7 through 12 compete in over 15 categories in either the Junior or Senior Division. Fair preparation starts in the fall and culminates with the competition in the early spring. Students who have competed in the Metro Richmond STEM Fair have gone on to receive numerous awards in national and international science competitions.
“The MathScience Innovation Center is a jewel right here in Richmond, Virginia. We are so lucky to have a facility and team of educators who can help inspire children in the area of science and mathematics. Inspiration and education offered to the young folks right here in our state is what will help the USA continue to lead and grow in innovation. The goal daily is to get one more person and company to learn about the MathScience Innovation Center and help with annual funding to help develop future workers here in Virginia and surrounding States.” comments Barry Moore, community supporter of MSiC, and General Manager, Haley Buick GMC.
For more information on how to get your child involved in the MathScience Innovation Center, visit www.myMSIC.org or call 804-343-6525. You can also make a donation to the Center to continue to support their great initiatives and efforts in the community.
Come visit the Center at 2401 Hartman Street Richmond, VA 23223!