Massachusetts aims to boost interest in science and tech careers

In an attempt to persuade students that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) aren’t actually that dull, six Massachusetts institutions have launched a mentoring program.

Called Digits, the program connects sixth-grade classes with volunteers from industry to inspire student interest in STEM careers. It will reach out to sixth-grade classrooms in 568 schools around the Commonwealth over this academic year.

Despite leading the nation in math test scores, Massachusetts students don’t have a lot of interest in STEM careers. According to 2009 SAT data, only 22 percent of all SATs students in Massachusetts expressed interest in pursuing a college major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, compared to 28 percent nationally.

“It is imperative for the Commonwealth to promote STEM careers and courses of study for our young people,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray, who also chairs the Patrick-Murray Administration’s STEM Advisory Council. “Science and technology companies need more students in the STEM pipeline to fill the jobs that are being created now and in the future, and the DIGITS program is a great example that we can use to inspire future leaders in STEM fields.”

The program brings volunteer ‘ambassadors’ into sixth-grade classrooms to speak about their careers. It features award-winning graphics developed on a pro bono basis by Arnold Advertising; materials to enhance math and science teachers’ knowledge of STEM careers; and interactive exercises that help sixth-graders understand the benefits of studying math and science and the wide range of job opportunities available to them if they do.

The program is funded by the Department of Higher Education’s STEM Pipeline Fund and in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

For more information or to volunteer, visit