Media Release: Governor Mills Announces New Initiative to Bring Mobile Computer Science Labs to All Maine Schools

Governor Janet Mills today announced the launch of a new Maine Department of Education (DOE) initiative that will provide every Maine public school with a free mobile computer science lab. The effort, funded through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, will enable all Maine students to access high-quality learning experiences that provide real-word training in robotics, programming, augmented and virtual reality, coding, and hardware.

In July, Governor Mills joined governors from across the country in signing a bipartisan national compact on computer science education. As part of the agreement unveiled at the National Governors Association’s Summer Meeting in Portland, all 50 governors pledged to work to expand K-12 computer science education options in their states. The DOE has a comprehensive computer science education plan guided by seven key principles.

“Our economy increasingly depends on workers with training in computer science. This initiative will ensure that students across our state are prepared to succeed in the jobs of the future,” said Governor Janet Mills. “My administration will continue to make sure that all Maine students have a chance to acquire digital literacy skills.”

“Maine is leading the nation by providing equipment to our schools statewide to ensure that every student has a meaningful computer science education with real-world applications,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “These mobile computer science labs will provide every student in Maine, across all grade levels and subject areas, with learning experiences that prepare them for future success.”

“This opportunity from the Mills administration and the Maine Department of Education is a game-changer for the students of Maine. For the first time, all Maine kids will have equal access to a high-quality computer science curriculum and tools in their schools. I am incredibly happy to see that equity is the centerpiece of this new initiative and cannot wait to see what happens next,” said Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Maine Chapter President and 8th Grade Computer Science Teacher Sean Wasson.

Schools will be able to order one of three mobile lab options: Robotics and Programming, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Coding and Hardware. Each lab contains computer science equipment valued at $5,000 and is designed to be integrated into any content area and skill level. Additionally, the initiative will make available professional learning opportunities for educators tailored to each computer science topic area.

The Maine Department of Education is reaching out to Maine superintendents with detailed information about how to secure mobile labs for schools in their district. More information about each program area can be found on the Maine Department of Education website.

Portland Public Schools Unveils New Mobile Makerspace to Provide All Elementary Students with STEM and Technology Learning Experiences

Joined by students, educators, and community members, Portland Public Schools held a ribbon cutting last week at Rowe Elementary School for their new Mobile Makerspace which will bring immersive, project-based STEM and technology learning experiences to all Portland elementary students.

The Mobile Makerspace will travel to elementary schools for two-week visits this fall and spring. Once at the schools, students along with their classroom teachers will visit the Mobile Makerspace for mini or immersive experiences depending on their grade level. It will provide every PreK-5 student in Portland Public Schools with at least one design/innovation/engineering experience each year. One project example involves sail cars. Based on grade-level standards, students will be exploring properties of materials as they try to determine the best material, the best size, and the best shape for their sail. During their experience, students will employ the Engineering Design Process to guide their work – Asking – Imagining – Planning – Creating – Experimenting – Improving.

“We want our students to be scientifically and ecologically literate as well as technologically capable problem solvers. We want our Portland Public Schools students to not just be consumers of technology but creators. Through rigorous and engaging science education, our students will learn to be caring, active participants in the world and become equipped to comprehend, analyze, and create solutions to global issues. The Mobile Makerspace is one way that we are addressing this vision,” said Portland Public Schools STEM Director Brooke Teller.

At the ribbon cutting, a group of 5th grade students got to explore some of the high- and low-tech gear and opportunities contained in the Mobile Makerspace, including the 3-d printer, technology projects, books on STEM-related topics, and creative building opportunities.

“I am so excited and honored to be the mobile makerspace coordinator for Portland Public Schools. I get to bring STEM opportunities and engineering design challenges to Portland’s elementary students. And I get to do this at a time when research is telling us that our young learners should be engaged with science and engineering practices,” said Mobile Makerspace Coordinator Karen Shibles. “In addition to a focus on NEXT GEN science and engineering standards & practices, there will be an emphasis on those key 21st Century skills, also known as the 4Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.”

Portland Public Schools, in partnership with the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, worked with the community to design, build, and outfit this mobile lab. The trailer was secured from On the Road trailers, Blue Planet Graphics installed the artwork, and Casco Bay High School alum Charlie Hindall made the artwork.

“We believe that these mobile makerspace experiences will be a spark that ignites a student’s further curiosity and engagement with all that science, technology, engineering, and math have to unlock for them. We believe that these experiences will be brought back into the school buildings, and in conjunction with a district wide science curriculum, students will receive the joyful and just science education they deserve,” said Teller.

Panelist Opportunities for Maine Science Educators 

The Maine Department of Education is currently recruiting elementary (5th grade) educators and alternate participants (grades 8 and 3rd year of high school) to participate in an upcoming standard setting for the state’s science assessment, Maine (MEA) Science.

Maine educators and the DOE play a crucial role in the development of this assessment for students. No prior experience with standard setting or standard setting methodology is required however, panelists should be a science expert that teaches students who participate in the Maine Science assessment and have a thorough understanding of the assessed Maine Learning Results (MLRs) Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Participants must be able to differentiate between student performances at different levels of achievement. Standard setting panels consist of 10 educators per grade band (grade 5, 8, and 3rd year of high school).  Panelists will have the opportunity to discuss and determine application thresholds for Maine.

Current needs include:

  • Grade 5 – 4 Educators
  • Grade 8 – Alternates*
  • 3rd year of High School – Alternates*

*Alternates need to indicate they would be available should a panelist be unable to participate.

The standard setting is scheduled to take place from July 26th – 28th 2022 in Augusta. Travel, accommodations and expenses will be covered with a daily stipend provided to selected panelists.

Please consider applying or sharing the upcoming opportunities with colleagues. The expertise and contributions of Maine educators are a critical element of the continued development cycle for these assessments.

Interested? Complete the panelist registration survey. 

Want more information? Please reach out to Janette Kirk, Chief of Federal Programs at Janette.Kirk@maine.gov.

Commissioner Makin, Senator King, Students Participate in a Robotics Competition to Launch 19th Annual MLTI Student Conference

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin and Senator Angus King kicked off the 19th annual MLTI (Maine Learning Technology Initiative) Student Conference today by participating in a live robotics competition with students at Nokomis Regional Middle High School.

Makin participated in person while King entered the competition remotely from his office in Washington, D.C. Student teams from schools across the state also competed to see who could get their robot to complete the skills tests the fastest, including nationally-ranked basketball phenom and Nokomis freshman, Copper Flagg. The morning launch session also included a welcome video from Governor Mills and a high-altitude balloon launch into space.

This year’s MLTI student conference was the highest attended in MLTI’s 19-year history with 55 schools, 5,672 students, and 696 educators participating. The theme of this year’s conference was MLTI Launches Space2Connect and included interpretations of space and connection as they relate to Maine students and their use of technology. The new virtual, classroom-based session style allowed students to attend in a classroom setting where they could learn, practice, and create.

Following the morning launch event, workshop leaders taught the conference participants new skills, provided time for students to practice these new skills, and then supported them as they created something new with what they learned. This new design allowed students to work together as they explored new resources and applications, created with new digital mediums, and collaborated to complete tasks.

Every school also received shirts for all participants that were designed by an MLTI student, and a 3-D printed medallion that traveled to space and back.

Panelist Opportunities for Maine Science Educators

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is currently recruiting educators to participate in an upcoming standard setting for the state’s science assessment, Maine (MEA) Science.

Maine educators and the DOE play a crucial role in the development of this assessment for students. No prior experience with standard setting or standard setting methodology is required, however panelists should be a science expert that teaches the students who participate in the Maine Science assessment and have a thorough understanding of the assessed Maine Learning Results (MLRs) Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Participants must be able to differentiate between student performances at different levels of achievement. Standard setting panels consist of ten (10) educators per grade band (grade 5, 8, and 3rd year of high school).  Panelists will have the opportunity to discuss and determine application thresholds for Maine.

The Assessment Team is currently recruiting educators with a general science background, however preference will be given to high school teachers with the following areas of science expertise to ensure broad representation of all science domains:

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Life Science
  • Earth & Space

The standard setting is scheduled to take place from July 26th – 28th 2022 in Augusta. Travel, accommodations, and expenses will be covered with a daily stipend provided to selected panelists.

Please consider applying or sharing the upcoming opportunities with colleagues. The expertise and contributions of Maine educators are a critical element of the continued development cycle for these assessments.

 

Interested? Complete the panelist registration survey or use the QR code provided below.

Want more information? Please reach out to Janette Kirk, Director of Federal Programs, at Janette.Kirk@maine.gov.