The Springfield Institute recognizes that inclusion of underrepresented groups (African-Americans, Latina/os, women, persons with disabilities) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is a necessity for enhancing future economic, social and technological development. In line with this understanding, we are promoting sustainable community development in tier-two cities like Holyoke, MA and creating an ecosystem of learning. As a part of SI’s Innovation Holyoke, we are creating Natural Science Academy, the infrastructure to support experiential learning programs and guidance for STEM careers aimed at high school students from underrepresented populations. Our STEM programs will be take place under the Pioneer Valley Coral, a for-profit LLC, which will provide wholesale aquacultured corals. By creating an ecosystem of learning, we will:
- Establish our own community-based aquaculture facility and laboratory space, which will provide more flexibility in program adjustments and improvements as well as ensuring year round activities.
- Provide one-of-a-kind, hands on educational experiences in marine conservation, sustainability and environmental protection, which will introduce students to coral propagation techniques and aquaculture science.
- Establish scholarships to support prospective students seeking academic funding.
SI’s experiential educational program is designed to provide an ecosystem of learning, which will include internships for high school students and workshops for high school science teachers. Our programing will offer hands-on projects focused on marine science, environmental engineering, chemistry and environmental justice. The educational program will also be complemented by a number of activities: team building sessions, seminar series, and science fairs, which encourage networking with peers, communicating scientific concepts, and interaction with participants from other community programs.