Initiative Will Build Awareness of Maine Bioscience Careers through Traveling Program
Portland, Maine (September 19, 2023) – Portland-based nonprofit organization Educate Maine, in partnership with Bioscience Association of Maine, Northeastern University’s Roux Institute and Learning Undefeated, has announced plans to build a mobile bioscience laboratory for Maine students that will increase interest in and awareness of bioscience content and careers. Funding for this initiative has been provided in the Congressional Budget of the 2024 fiscal year, thanks to legislation introduced and supported by Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.
“This investment in the state’s future workforce will introduce students to the game-changing biotech jobs available here in our state and support educators to expand life science opportunities in schools across Maine,” said Jason Judd, Executive Director of Educate Maine. “We are grateful to Senator Collins and Senator King for their strong and forward-thinking support of Maine students.”
The mobile lab is a traveling trailer that will bring scientific tools and techniques right to the school parking lot, allowing students a field-trip style experience in STEM along with career exposure, curriculum based on real-word Maine jobs, and educator professional development opportunities.
“In today’s knowledge economy, it is important for students—at all levels—to understand that STEM is for all. But currently the pipeline into STEM opportunities in Maine is very narrow,” said Aileen Huang-Saad, Director of Life Sciences, Health, and Engineering at The Roux Institute. “The new mobile learning lab will provide the opportunity for more students from every corner of Maine to explore hands-on STEM learning and potential careers using state-of-the-art equipment.”
Agnieszka Carpenter, Executive Director of Bioscience Association of Maine agrees, “Life sciences is one of the fastest growing industries in Maine. In the past five years alone, our high-paying bioscience jobs have grown by 42 percent. With such substantial growth, Maine has a unique opportunity to become a thriving biotech hub, but our industry currently lacks appropriate career pathways for Maine students, especially in rural areas. The mobile lab will open doors to students that were previously unavailable.”
Educate Maine has partnered with nonprofit organization Learning Undefeated, a thought leader in immersive education environments, to design and build the mobile bioscience lab that will serve Maine students.
“Growing up in the Bangor area, I had very little exposure to STEM careers in Maine. A fun and engaging bioscience experience that travels right to the school parking lot will completely change the way that students like me feel about Maine careers,” said Janeé Pelletier, EVP of Communications for Learning Undefeated. “This program will engage Maine students early with the high-demand fields that offer a living family wage and power Maine’s economy, showing them that there are great careers right here at home.”
The biolab curriculum is being co-developed with input from Maine bioscience employers and industry stakeholders. Public school teachers also provided feedback to inform the program through an educator survey with additional focus groups in Presque Isle, Machias, Farmington, and online in early August.
The Maine bioscience lab is expected to begin serving schools in spring 2024, with an initial focus on grades 5 to 8. The entire program will be available at no cost to schools.