JMG students discover science, technology, engineering and math with nature’s help

By Ramona du Houx - May 23rd, 2011 · 

With a new nature educational program called NEST JMG students learn fly fishing

Students in the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) program discovered that learning about subjects like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is fun during the organization’s first annual Nature Exploration for Students through Teamwork (NEST) event. NEST takes JMG students out of school and puts Mother Nature at the head of the class. More than two hundred and fifty 7th graders in JMG took part in this overnight event from May 17 -20th at the YMCA camp in Winthrop.

“I’ve been in a kayak before, but I didn’t know how much engineering goes into making and designing a boat so it can float. It’s pretty cool that Eskimos invented these 4,000 years ago using seal skin and now we are making them with man- made plastics,” said Katelyn James, from China Middle School.

All week, students began the process of exploring the world of STEM through outdoor activities including kayaking, a low ropes course, and a scavenger hunt using the global positioning system (GPS). Students began to understand how these subjects, that are often considered scary or complicated, relate to very simple things in their everyday lives.

The goal of NEST is to begin to teach students STEM-related skills in order to better prepare them for a job market that is demanding more and more of these skills. Time Warner Cable is a big believer in STEM education and is lead sponsor of NEST.

“Partnering with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates is a smart decision for us. These young people are going to be tomorrow’s workforce – our employees. If we want them to be ready for the demands of a 21st century job market, we have to invest in them now,“ said Andrew Russell, Communications Manager for Time Warner Cable of New England.

Time Warner Cable has launched a 5-year initiative called “Connect a Million Minds”, a philanthropic campaign to address the country’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The company has even designed a curriculum: Cracking the Codes in the Wireless World, which gives students the chance to explore the technologies behind the wireless products they use every day.

“We rely on businesses throughout the state to support Maine’s students and to help them connect the dots between high school and successful careers,” said Craig Larrabee, President and CEO for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. ”Time Warner Cable isn’t just talking about what Maine students need in order to be contributing members of the workforce and the economy; they’re doing something about it.”

JMG is a statewide, private nonprofit working with students who face barriers to education. JMG provides 4,000 students a year with the skills and experience they will need to succeed in high school, post secondary education, and careers. JMG graduates become engaging members of their communities, productive adults in the workforce, and contributors to Maine’s economy.