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A new UMass Lowell program, now in its infancy, may be the latest example of how the University is reaching out to the region ߞ; in this case, its youth ߞ; while at the same time expanding and improving its own possibilities.
The fledgling TEAMS (Technology, Engineering and Math-Science) program, which began its pilot phase last year with 270 regional high school students attending UML classes part-time, moved into a higher gear this fall, as 32 specially-selected 11th- and 12th-grade students from 12 local school districts are enrolled in UMass Lowell courses.
The four courses being offered ߞ; environmental biotechnology, interactive robotics, bat engineering design, and assistive technology and electronics ߞ; developed through a collaboration of UMass Lowell faculty and regional high school teachers, are designed to supplement, rather than to replace, advanced high school courses. Their goal is to allow selected students to explore applied concepts in a range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter until their junior or senior years in college.
Typically, the students arrive at UMass each morning to work in class with a group of their peers, then return to their respective schools in mid-morning to attend core courses. Each student is enrolled to take four University courses per year, two each in the fall and spring semesters.
The program, a collaborative effort by the University’s deans of Education, Engineering and Sciences, is being overseen by a Tyngsboro High School physics and math teacher, Donald Rhine, who will serve as TEAMS coordinator as part of a sabbatical agreement with the Tyngsboro school system.
“It’s been a great opportunity,” Rhine says. “The students are just so bright and motivated, so willing to work. The bus commute can be a hardship ߞ; some of them are getting picked up as early as 6:30 in the morning ߞ; but you never hear them complain. And the teachers ߞ; we couldn’t be doing this without the cooperation we’ve had from the high school teachers who’ve made their time available, not to mention those at UMass Lowell. It’s just been an incredible experience all around.”
TEAMS is being funded by a $650,000 legislative apportionment, sponsored chiefly by state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, who was effusive in his praise of the program: “We know that we need to grow our talent in the Merrimack Valley to ensure our kids will capture the jobs of the future,” Panagiotakos said last spring at the time of the program’s announcement. “This program starts our tenth graders on the path to success.”