March 2023

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Welcome to the DESE STEM Newsletter!

Using Anchoring Phenomena to Study Science

K-5 STEM Coach Brian Spano worked with Mrs. Tina Andre and Co-teacher, Colleen MacNamee and her class at the Station Avenue Elementary School in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District on the Anchoring Phenomena Driving Question: How can humans learn from the way plants and animals use their external parts to survive?  

Students designed and constructed a variety of tools. The results? An amazing display of innovative inventions, and engaging application of the MA Life Science standards!  

One student copied owl eyes. She explained, “I’m making glasses so when you look and it's night, it looks like it's morning.” 

Two other students copied wolves' teeth. They explained, “To help pick up stuff. The teeth stay sharp and it can open and close. It can poke stuff that can be poked.” 

Highlights from the Spring STE 6-8 CURATE Institute

CURATE Spring Institute

Educators throughout the state of Massachusetts meet as a panel to engage in a facilitated review process of curriculum. Panelists share and discuss evidence they have documented from the provided information on curricular materials, seek consensus on CURATE ratings, and provide rationale for panel decisions. Once ratings have been designated by panelists, CURATE reports are drafted and shared with panelists for review.  Visit the DESE website to learn more about CURATE (Curriculum Ratings by Teachers). 

We would love to share your successes!

If you would like to connect with our STEM team and share some successes you are having, email our STEM team at We'd love to visit or highlight your school and students in an upcoming newsletter!

Seeking Members for Math Task Force

The Launch Years Initiative Task Force will bring together leaders, experts, and advocates from K-12, higher education, and the workforce to codify and support the scaling of efforts to build equitable and accessible mathematics course sequences for high school through postsecondary and into the workplace. This Task Force will focus on grade 8-12 specific course design features, intentional course sequencing, intentional analysis of prerequisite courses, etc. to include all students, including those with disabilities and historically marginalized students. 


The Task Force is looking to recruit leaders, experts, and advocates from K-12, higher education, and the workforce with an interest in Mathematics education and background knowledge that can help move the project forward. The Task Force is being created to help students become prepared for life beyond K-12 and set them up for success in the ever-evolving workforce. The expertise of the members of the Task Force allows for the generation of knowledge and the creation of a direction for the Task Force to follow while implementing the program. The expectation of the Task Force will be to set and achieve the goals for these three years of this work.    

 Please visit (Launch Years Initiative | UT Dana Center) to learn more about this project.  

To apply use this link.
The due date for applications is Wednesday, March 15th. Please reach out to if you have any questions about the application. We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Seeking Public Comment on Educator Preparation Program

Do you want to inform how educators are prepared and the impacts they’ll have on students? The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is revising our process for approving organizations that train educators, with particular emphasis on anti-racist and evidence-based practices. We are seeking input from people with a broad range of roles, experiences, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Whether you are a PK-12 educator, family or community member, preparation candidate, or work at a preparation program, we want your perspectives and experiences to inform our work.   

If you had a great experience with education, a not-so-great experience, or if you have ideas about how educators should be prepared to teach all students, this is your opportunity to make your voice heard. We believe that, in partnership with you, we can positively impact the experiences and outcomes of future educators and students, particularly those that identify as Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and Multiracial.   

This survey provides the option to share feedback on the overall Guidelines or just on sections that you are most passionate about (we recommend focusing on the domains and criteria). You can choose how long to spend on your response – as little as 10 minutes – and may submit feedback individually or with a group of colleagues or community members. The survey will remain open through March 26th, 2023. Please reach out to if you have any questions about how to participate. We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Nominate an educator to be honored

The Red Sox are proud to honor local educators.

Students have the opportunity to nominate an educator (teacher, coach, guidance counselor etc.) for a chance to be recognized during a pregame ceremony before Saturday home games. Each honoree will receive a pair of tickets and a personalized jersey. The student submitting the nomination will also receive a pair of tickets.

red sox logo

Nominations can be submitted to In 400 words or less students should describe why this educator deserves to be honored and winners will be selected by the Community Relations Department. Submissions should also include contact information for the nominated educator.

*Parents and other school administrators can also submit nominations

Find out more about thie Most Valuable Educator Recognition here.  Check out the other Red Sox Community Programs here.

Machine Learning Research Study Opportunity for CS and non-CS Teachers 

picture of a brain

Are you curious about Machine Learning (ML)? Would you like to learn about it and bring some machine learning ideas to your students -- integrated with your curriculum? 

Dr. Fred Martin at UMass Lowell is looking for middle school teachers of math, science, social studies, language arts, and other non-computer science subjects. Computer Science teachers may join with a non-cs colleague. Coding experience is not needed nor will be involved in this project! 

This virtual program is a research study to investigate how we might design learning materials and activities that support teachers’ integration of machine learning in core subjects. You will: 

  • Explore a few machine learning software tools 

  • Brainstorm connections between machine learning and your curriculum topics  

  • Prototype an idea for bringing machine learning to your students 

  • Share your experiences with colleagues and program researchers 

You will complete short surveys along the way and a post-program interview to share your perspectives. Participants will receive a $500 stipend. 

You will need to be available (virtually) on the following dates. Each meeting is from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM: (1) Wed Mar 29; (2) Wed Apr 12; (3) Wed Apr 26; (4) Wed May 24.  

In the first two meetings we will use computer-based tools and “unplugged” manipulatives to demonstrate machine learning concepts. At the third meeting we will brainstorm and co-design curriculum integrations, which you will then bring to your students. On the last day, we will share results from the classroom work.  

To join, please fill out the registration form. Or, for more information, contact Thank you! 

Hatfield Public Schools Spotlight Video on Computing and Equity 

Hatfield Public Schools is one of five Massachusetts school districts participating in Programming the Acceleration of Computing and Equity (PACE), a district-wide systems change model to successfully support adoption of computer science as an important component of middle school education. As part of PACE, the district is developing a project-based comprehensive computer science initiative and applying it across content areas to build problem-solving skills that will open the door to career opportunities for all students.  

Check out the district’s short Spotlight Video that features Smith Academy Computer Science Teacher, Emily Case, speaking to how the district is specifically targeting equitable access to computer science learning, and future job opportunities, to middle school students.  

If you like what you see and your district is interested in joining the PACE project, reach out here and the team will be in touch with you to help support your middle school CS needs. 

PACE logo

Open Access Professional Learning (OAPL) Science- Course Enrollment is now open! 

DESE is pleased to offer Massachusetts PK–12 educators and administrators’ FREE high-quality professional development in science topics from highly qualified providers.  Register now for an upcoming courses: 

Science & Technology Engineering
  • NGSX - Clark University 
    • PLANS - Principals Learning and Networking for Science, Cohort 1: March 10-11, Cohort 2: April 28-29
  • Educate on Purpose  
    • Introduction to Phenomena-Driven Instruction (Monthly sessions offered) 
    • Using Formative Assessment to Shape Instruction (Monthly sessions offered) 
  • Wade Institute  
    • Building the Storyline, Grades 3-5, March 6-7 
    • Building the Storyline, Grades 9-12. April 3-4 
    • Engaging Students in the Engineering Process Using Sensors. April 27-28

Massachusetts educators who qualify can enroll in these courses for free and will also receive either a stipend or teacher substitute reimbursement upon completing the course. The complete course catalog and registration is available through the OAPL website. 

Districts Sought to Build Equity in HS Computer Science Programs 

The Programming and Computing Equity - Teaching With Opportunity (PACE-TWO) project, a collaboration between the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, CSforMA, DESE, and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, is seeking teams of educators from high schools in Massachusetts to join an ongoing community of practice which works to increase equity in high school computer science programs. We seek to increase representation from any group that has been previously underrepresented in computer science. Those groups may include Black students, Hispanic and Latinx students, low-income students, students from rural areas with little access to high tech industry, and young women. Each school team should consist of a computer science administrator, a high school counselor, and a high school computer science teacher.  
logos of supporting organizations

Teams joining the community of practice for the first time will participate in a week-long summer on-boarding workshop. Dates for the workshop are TBD, but will be announced as soon as possible. 

During the school year, teams will participate in facilitated monthly meetings to: 

  • assess the state of equity in their school, 

  • continue to learn about best practices for equity in computer science, 

  • design strategies to increase equity in computer science at the high school level, and 

  • develop an evaluation to monitor the impact of the implemented strategies. 

Participating high schools should have an existing computer science program and a strong commitment to building equity into the program. Rural and/or high needs districts are encouraged to apply. Modest funding is available to support participation.  

Interested individuals should complete the interest form. Recruitment will happen on a rolling basis between now and the end of this school year. Anyone with questions is asked to please email Josh Sheldon from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab at

PD Provider Registry  

The Department is pleased to announce the 2023 Spring Professional Development (PD) Provider Registry application window. The application is for:  

  1. providers interested in becoming approved and added to DESE’s online registry, 

  1. approved providers seeking approval for additional content areas, and 

  1. providers who need to renew their three-year approval.  

The Department welcomes a variety of providers, such as professional organizations, non-public schools, not-for-profit organizations, private and for-profit organizations, individuals, educational partnerships, corporations, educational agencies, and associations whose programs demonstrate characteristics of the Massachusetts Standards for High Quality PD
The online application will be available from Monday, February 13 through Wednesday, March 15 through DESE’s PD Resources & Tools for Providers page. The expected approval turnaround time is one to two months. Providers are encouraged to also consider providing online PD opportunities. Questions about the application may be emailed to


OpenSciEd logo

OpenSciEd Elementary – Competitive Field Test Grant Opening Soon! 

The OpenSciEd Elementary (k-5) Field Test field test will begin in the 2023-2024 school year with the summer professional development in August 2023. The instructional materials and professional learning will be designed to support teachers in engaging students in scientific thinking that moves learning about science (memorizing facts) to figuring things out through phenomena-driven instruction that is collaborative and relevant to students lives. The instructional materials are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks/Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and will include ELA/literacy and math integrations.

Interested districts are encouraged to apply to be part of the field test. The grant application will be available on the DESE website soon. Please see the flyer to learn more.

The Massachusetts OpenSciEd Elementary Field Test Information  

  • The Massachusetts field test will begin summer 2023 and go through spring 2025 
  • Districts can apply for 1 or 2 elementary schools to participate in grade bans: k-2, 3-5 or k-5 
  • Districts are eligible to receive funding for classroom science materials for piloting, teacher stipends, substitute reimbursement, and travel costs to professional learning 
  • Professional learning will be offered for all field-tested units (four per grade level). Each participating educator will receive professional learning prior to implementing the unit in the classroom and additional support during implementation of the unit.  
  • Massachusetts educators will provide feedback to the curriculum developers on the units for improvements and modifications in the final versions 

Reach out to Alex Jones ( with any questions. 

MassLife Sciences STEM Equipment and Professional Development Grant Program 

The MLSC seeks to further advance and expand life sciences education at Massachusetts public high schools and middle schools through implementation of project- and inquiry-based curricula. Through this program, MLSC awards grant funding to schools and curriculum providers for the purpose of teacher professional development and the purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, and technology needed to support new or expanded curriculum. By exposing students to relevant lab skills with real-world applications and career exploration, they prepare for prospective career opportunities in the life sciences. Funding for teacher professional development will ensure that educators receive the technical training needed to effectively use newly acquired equipment and technology. 

Applicants can request grant funding of up to $200,000 (up to $100,000 per high school and up to $50,000 per middle school) for capital expenses (including equipment, materials, supplies, and technology), and up to $40,000 (up to $20,000 per school) for professional development. 


Applicants must be at least one of the following: 

  1. Vocational technical high school or a comprehensive public high school with a life sciences Chapter 74 program.  
  2. Public middle schools or high schools (including charter schools) located in a “Gateway City”. 
  3. Public high schools or middle schools (including charter schools) with a student population of at least 25% classified as “low income” by DESE. 

Applications are now open! The due date to apply is March 30, 2023 at 5 p.m.   
To find out more and apply - click here.  Please email with any questions.  



Application Now Open for InvenTeam Grants Initiative 

Do you know high school students who are ready for a real challenge? The InvenTeam Grants Initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, offers an opportunity for students to cultivate their creativity and solve real-world problems through experiencing invention.   

  • InvenTeams are teams of high school students, educators, and mentors which receive grants of up to $7,500 to invent working technological solutions to real-world problems. 

  • High school educators and their teams may apply for the InvenTeams grant. 

  • Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve. 

  • Up to 10 schools will be awarded the InvenTeam grant. 

Being on an InvenTeam is a life changing experience. See for yourself what teens can accomplish when they think like inventors! 

First round due date for teacher applications, April 27th 

Invitation to submit final applications will be announced: May 3rd 

Find out more here

Inventeams logo 

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

girls who code logo
Girls Who Code invites current high school students who identify as girls or non-binary to apply to their summer programs, which are available June 17 - August 12. Students get priority consideration when they apply by Thursday, February 16, and other applications are due by Saturday, March 18. More information is available through the above link and in webinars.

Student Scholarship Applications Now Open! 

Each year, Association for Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts (ATMIM) awards 3 scholarships for high school seniors. Starting this year, students will apply directly for one of these scholarships.  

Please share this Scholarship Flyer on your classroom communication portals, through a school newsletter, or any other way to help us get the word out to high school seniors about this great opportunity. The application due date is March 14, 2023. 

Discovery Museum Announces 2023 Scholarship Program 

discovery museum logo

Discovery Museum announced today the 2023 Discovery Museum Scholarship program, which began last year in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Museum. In an increase from last year, the 2023 program will award four one-time $1,500 scholarships to high school juniors or seniors in MA who embody the mission and values of the Museum, to support them on the next leg of their educational journeys. 

“More than 5 million kids and their families have come through our doors over the past 41 years to learn about themselves, their abilities, and the world around them, guided by their own creativity and natural curiosity,” said CEO Neil Gordon. “The Discovery Museum Scholarship looks to celebrate young learners who embody the mission and values of the Museum by supporting them on next leg of their educational journeys—whatever that might be.” 

Gordon continued, “The scholarship program kicked off last year with a plan to award $1,000 scholarships to two recipients. The Scholarship Committee was so impressed with the caliber and thoughtfulness of the candidates that it selected four award recipients rather than two. This year, the committee will again award four scholarships, and has increased the award amount from $1,000 to $1,500 in recognition of the tremendous impact today’s teens can have on their communities.” 

All high school juniors and seniors residing in MA are eligible to apply. For one of the four awards, preference will be given to Discovery Museum past or current employees or volunteers. Award money can be used for any educational or developmental experience, such as college or trade school tuition, travel expenses to support an exciting volunteer opportunity, or costs to provide a learning experience for young children. Video or written applications are being accepted now via Google form at (Applicants must log in to Google in their browser to apply) and must be received by March 31, 2023. Recipients will be notified in mid-May. 

CS100 Awards 

The CS100 Awards provide national recognition for top computer science elementary schools in the United States: those that commit to teaching 100% of their K-5 students computer science in the 2023-2024 school year. Schools may apply for one of two levels of CS100 Recognition: 

  • The CS100 Award, or the 

  • The CS100 All in Award, recognizes those schools that not only reach 100% of students with some CS, but cover State grade-level standards in CS. 

Schools can apply and learn more on the CS100 Page, applications are due March 17th. Award recipients will be announced at the Summit on March 30th. 

FAFSA Completion Assistance Available 

DESE would like to announce an opportunity to assist in FAFSA completion for Massachusetts public high school seniors. Through our partnership with uAspire, they will provide a customized iteration of student advising and counselor technical assistance services that will connect students and counselors from across the Commonwealth with uAspire’s financial aid expertise. uAspire services seek to accelerate students’ progress toward applying for, securing, and maintaining their financial aid for college. 

If you would like uAspire to contact your school or district to discuss these services in more depth, please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey


Wed. March 22nd [1 - 3 pm] DLCS leader network virtual meeting [Reach out to for more info]

Wed. March 29th [9am – 12pm] STE leader network virtual meeting [Reach out to for more info] 

Thurs. March 30th - ATMIM 2023 Spring Conference: March Mathness, Register here!

Wed. April 5th - Math Leader Network Virtual Meeting [Reach out to to get connected]
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