(Caption: The Great Wolf Lodge of New England, located…
National Library Week in Massachusetts, April 13-19
(Caption: The Bates Reading Room at the Boston Public Library) Did you know that Massachusetts can proudly claim the nation’s first public library and also the first membership library in the original thirteen colonies? And that we have a presidential library, some of the world’s best university libraries, two federal archives, and the world’s largest repository of books for the blind and deaf? Those facts are worth mentioning as we celebrate National Library Week, an annual appreciation of the important role libraries play in our society, and the value Massachusetts places on education, learning and the free exchange of ideas. The celebration has been organized nationally by the American Library Association since 1958. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is the state agency that supports, improves and promotes library services throughout the state. Massachusetts has over 370 public libraries and 1,400 academic and specialized libraries throughout the Commonwealth. Here are just a few of the highlights: The Boston Athenaeum, at 8 ½ Beacon Street near the Massachusetts State House, was created in 1807 as the first membership library in the American colonies. The Athenaeum quickly became a centerpiece for the Bay Colony’s cultural, educational, artistic and publishing pursuits. Today it remains a vibrant, important center for scholars, bibliophiles and community groups. The Boston Public Library opened its doors in 1848, thanks to legislation created and enacted by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts. It was the first large public library in the United States, and was initially referred to as the people’s palace, since it was open to everyone. The Samuel P. Hayes Research Library & Perkins Archives is regarded as the world’s largest collection of non-medical books about blindness and deafness. The library was founded in 1880, as part of Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind. The State Library of Massachusetts, located at the State House, has a vast collection of important government documents dating back to the founding of the nation. It also has official documents pertaining to Massachusetts’ participation in various wars, and all of the regulations and laws passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in its history. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum at Columbia Point in Dorchester is a federal repository of the papers and holdings of President Kennedy and his administration. The JFK is a treasure trove of information about the state’s native son, and also materials on mid-20th century politics in America. The National Archives hold the permanent archival records of the federal government. Massachusetts is fortunate to have two of the thirteen regional facilities located around the country, in Waltham and Pittsfield. The Massachusetts Health Sciences Library Network is a consortium of libraries that include medical research centers and hospitals, publishing companies and college libraries with significant collections in health sciences. You can find more about the state’s libraries by visiting the Massachusetts Library System and Massachusetts Library Association. You can search for libraries by topics or by town here.
Pax East 2014 – Future of Gaming is Now
Digital gaming is big business. If you need reassurance on this point, then consider PAX East 2014, which took place at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center over the weekend of April 11-13, 2014. Over 70,000 people attended the three-day show, not just from Massachusetts and New England, but from across North America and indeed, from around the world. Forbes Magazine notes that the coveted three-day passes sold out in less than three minutes! The convention center occasionally looked like a movie set as thousands of participants arrived in elaborate costumes from their favorite video games. Superheroes and fantasy characters blended in with thousands of students, young professionals, gaming designers and industry executives, all there to watch, learn, share, compete, and partake in this massive celebration of games. Massachusetts has a stake in the $67 billion gaming industry, says Helena Fruscio, director of Creative Industries, a state-wide initiative to tap into the growing sector of creative arts blossoming across the Commonwealth. As part of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, Fruscio’s job is to identify, unify and strengthen all of the creative industries in Massachusetts, from performing arts and filmmaking to publishing and digital games. This year, 38 Massachusetts companies exhibited at the show, said Tim Loew, executive director of Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi). The state-designated organization stimulates collaborative efforts among academia, entrepreneurs, state government and the gaming industry while promoting Massachusetts as a place well-positioned for growth in this burgeoning field. Loew said the MassDigi booth bustled all weekend. “We had drop-in mentoring for aspiring game developers of all ages, game demos from local companies Little Worlds Interactive, gameblyr, Moonshot Games and Catlateral Damage, area college and university students, special international friends in the Swiss Gaming Corner from swissnex Boston and more,” he said. PAX East 2014 wasn’t just about game-playing; there were nearly 200 panel discussions, ranging from “Land My Job! Inside Advice in Getting into the Game Industry,” to “The Sports Video Game Crisis.” And a number of universities – including Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Becker College, Fitchburg State University and other schools – were on hand to discuss their digital gaming courses and programs. One educational program that attracted attention was MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program (SIP), a twelve-week long paid internship of interest to college and university students from around the country who are studying game development. “Students work on teams, under the guidance of professional game industry producers and mentors with the objective of publishing a game,” Loew says about the highly competitive internships. “This year SIP received applications from 31 different academic institutions.” Massachusetts ranks in the top five most creative and innovative clusters of game developers in the country, Loew reckons. “With over 125 studios across the Commonwealth, Massachusetts game developers are building games for smartphones and tablets, personal computers and consoles, and for entertainment as well as education and other markets. And, with more people across the world playing more games on more devices than ever before, Massachusetts game developers are well-positioned for growth.”
10,000 + Science Teachers Meet in Boston
Last week over 11,500 science teachers from around the nation and places like Canada, the United Kingdom and China came to Boston for the National Science Teachers Association’s annual convention. The theme of this year’s conference was “Leading a Science Revolution,” an appropriate nod to Boston’s own revolutionary history and Massachusetts’ cutting edge innovative spirit. The conference was held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston’s Seaport District, where hundreds of workshops, lectures and forums took place throughout the day, alongside a well-stocked science bookstore, and an exhibit hall with the latest science products and teaching tools. In addition to the conference hall activities, there were dozens of field trips across the state as well. Delegates took four field trips to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they learned about DNA Proteins, Aeronautics, Augmented Reality games, and interactive video STEM Lessons. They traveled to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod and to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to study marine science. And they visited the Christa McAuliffe Center in Framingham to take a simulated spaceflight mission in the Challenger Learning Center. And locally, the teachers took trips to the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium and the Arnold Arboretum. One of the big topics of conversation was the “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), “a set of voluntary, rigorous, internationally bench-marked standards for K-12 science education. These standards are being developed by a national consortium of science and engineering experts, K-12 and higher education teachers and the science industries, working closely with twenty-six states, including Massachusetts. The goal is to make American children scientifically literate going forward. So far, eleven states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, according to Kate Falk, senior manager of public relations at the National Science Teachers Association. The NSTA has more details. The discussions around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education were relevant to Massachusetts, since our state has been a leader in developing this curriculum. Governor Deval Patrick created the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council in October 2009, and since then the state has worked with public officials to advocate for increased funding for secondary school students. When the Council last met in March 2014, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III discussed a bill he co-sponsored in Congress, the STEM Gateways Act, which if enacted would reach underrepresented groups such as girls, minorities and economically disadvantaged students. One of the interesting workshops at the convention was “Moving from STEM to STEAM,” which discussed the recent movement underway to add art to the STEM curriculum, making for a more interdisciplinary approach to learning. A number of awards were given out during the conference, and Gary Garber, Science Teacher at Boston University Academy, won a Vernier Technology Award for his use of sensors – including Photogate, Motion Detector and Accelerometer – as well as computer modeling to teach his students physics. And three Massachusetts science teachers – Janice Lewis of Lawrence School in Falmouth; Laura Rossier of FA Day Middle School in Newtonville; and Jacey Vaughan of Keverian School in Everett – won a Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for new teachers. The National Science Teachers Association last held its national convention here in 2008, and we’re glad they returned. Since 2000 Boston has seen the largest growth in convention market share of any U.S. City. You can find a schedule of upcoming conventions by visiting MassConvention.com.
Massachusetts Hosts Economic Development Summit on April 10
Greg Bialecki, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, has invited leaders from business, government and academia to convene this Thursday, April 10, 2014, for Massachusetts’ annual economic development summit. Over 200 participants are attending the all-day event at the Newton Marriott Hotel, including a cross-section of business leaders, state and municipal officials and global thinkers who have helped strengthen Massachusetts’ reputation as a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. The summit is an outgrowth of Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century, the state’s central organizing framework for measuring its economic development activities. This comprehensive plan, initiated by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010, builds upon Governor Deval Patrick ’s core strategy of long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, and focuses on five broad categories for action, along with 55 specific action steps. These five categories include Building Talent, Innovation Economy, Empowering Regions, Ease of Doing Business and Cost Competitiveness. Bialecki stresses “collaboration and strategic planning” as key ingredients for sustainable economic growth in the future, so much of the discussion will focus on state initiatives that meet these criteria. Examples include developing advanced manufacturing partnerships and middle-skills training in community colleges; creating innovation ecosystems to spawn startups; strengthening housing, job and educational opportunities across the entire state; and enacting ways to improve cost competitiveness while making it easy to do business in Massachusetts. Here is an online version of the brochure, and of the program and panelist biographies. For more information on the economic development summit, contact ChooseToCompete@state.ma.us. For an ongoing look at the state’s progress, visit Mass.gov/compete.
Massachusetts Celebrates National Poetry Month in April
April is National Poetry Month, and Massachusetts is starting the celebration in good form with a special poetry event taking place at Boston University Theatre on Monday, March 31, 2014 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Governor Deval Patrick is a guest reader, along with Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate and teacher at Boston University, Robin Young, host of “Here & Now” on WBUR and others. The event is being organized by Mass Poetry and Courage & Renewal Northeast. Massachusetts has a storied history when it comes to poetry, dating back to the very beginning of the Bay State Colony. Anne Dudley Bradstreet was America’s first published poet; her book, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was issued in 1650. Then Phillis Wheatley, a slave from Senegal who was brought to Boston in 1761, published her first poem in 1763, and her first book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. She was the first African-American, and the third American woman, to publish a book of poetry. In the 19th century, Massachusetts was home to many great poets, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson. Massachusetts produced renowned poets in the 20th century too, including Robert Frost and Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, and Robert Creeley and Stanley Kunitz. In addition, poets from around the world have come to Massachusetts to live here and teach, bringing an international, immigrant flair to the state’s literary community. Some of these include Khalil Gibran from Lebanon, Dereck Walcott from St. Lucia, and the late Seamus Heaney from Northern Ireland. The creative community is an important part of Massachusetts – historically and culturally – according to Helena Fruscio, director of the state’s Creative Industries efforts. But there’s an economic impact too. The creative economy employs over 100,000 people and contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy. The state’s literary community is also a tourist attraction, says the Mass Office of Travel & Tourism, as people all over the world come here to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst; to Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau found inspiration; or to Lowell, where Jack Keruouc was born and raised before heading on the road. Poetry is alive and well in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, Huntington Theatre’s Education Department and Mass Cultural Council organized the finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition at the Old South Meeting House. The winners are going to Washington DC at the end of April to compete against other states. Good luck to them!
Worcester Technical High School – the School that Works
Worcester Technical High School has been getting a lot of accolades recently and for good reason. A recent story in The Boston Globe, titled, “Worcester a model for Boston’s only vocational school,” noted that Worcester Tech, “among the country’s best schools, with about 98 percent of its 1,400 students graduating in four years, and about 60 percent going on to college,” is a model that other vocational schools, like Madison Park High School in Boston, can replicate. A reason for Worcester’s success, says the Globe, is because “the community at large, including businesses, higher education and non-profits, made the school a shared cause.” Another reason for its success is Dr. Sheila Harrity, who became principal in 2006 and is credited, along with community leaders, with helping to turn the school around. Dr. Harrity’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2013, she was named Massachusetts Principal of the Year, and the U.S. Department of Education named Worcester Tech the National Blue Ribbon School for Outstanding Student Achievement. Then last fall, Harrity was named the 2014 National High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She became the first Massachusetts principal to win the award. There’s more good news for Worchester Tech. On June 11, 2014, President Barack Obama is attending the school’s graduation to deliver the main speech, which is being held at the DCU Center. The school is honored by the president’s visit, said Dr. Harrity in a prepared statement, “As a pre-eminent leader and advocate for Career and Technical Education (CTE), the president’s work and commitment to promoting equality of opportunity for all, will inspire the class of 2014.” Building middle skills educational programs for Massachusetts students who aren’t necessarily going on to a four-year college is one of the priorities of the Patrick Administration. The Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development has been creating collaborative regional partnerships with employers, educators, workforce development specialists and schools to develop middle skills jobs in advanced manufacturing and other areas. Dr. Harrity is one of the speakers at the state’s economic development summit, Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century, on April 10, 2014. The all-day summit brings together leaders from throughout Massachusetts to discuss the Commonwealth’s economic development strategy for long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure.
Massachusetts Goes West to Enlist New College Students
Educators from Massachusetts are hitting the road this season to attend National College Fairs in Texas and California, part of an organized effort to entice high school students to select the Bay State for their college choice. The roadshows are organized by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM), an educational association representing over 60 independent and private schools in Massachusetts. AICUM has teamed up with the state’s public universities and colleges to present a united front at these fairs. The strategy is to create a distinct brand by bringing together dozens of participating schools from across the Commonwealth into a single pavilion under the Massachusetts banner. It’s a novel way for the Massachusetts schools to stand out before the thousands of high school students, parents and guidance counsellors shopping for colleges in the sprawling exhibit, which has schools from all 50 states. This week AICUM is attending the Dallas/Ft. Worth National College Fair on Monday, February 10, at the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, followed by the Houston National College Fair at the Reliant Center on Thursday, February 13. At each show, a full range of Massachusetts colleges are represented, from University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Northeastern University to Mt. Holyoke College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In April, Massachusetts is attending the National College Fairs in San Diego on April 23 and Los Angeles/Pasadena on May 1, 2014. California ranks third - after New York and Connecticut – for the number of non-Massachusetts students enrolling here each year. The outreach to prospective college students fits into Governor Deval Patrick’s strategy for growth, which is “about investing time, ideas and money in education, innovation and infrastructure.” Massachusetts has one of the most renowned clusters of universities and colleges, research centers, and medical training institutions in the world. With over 100 college campuses across the state, and over 500,000 students enrolled each year, Massachusetts offers an impressive range of educational choices that include private and public universities, medium sized colleges, denomination schools, all-women’s colleges, art and music schools, technical schools and community colleges. The Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development has worked with innovation industries to set up excellent internship programs in Life Sciences, BioTechnology, Clean Energy, High Tech and other fields, which allow students to make the transition from college curriculums to real-life experience. To find out more about what Massachusetts has to offer, visit AICUM for private colleges and universities, or the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education for a list of public higher education campuses. If you’re planning to visit college campuses in the coming year, MassVacation.com has a handy compendium of schools, with information on directions, transportation, local events , hotels and restaurants and other things to make your trip memorable.
Advancing Manufacturing in Massachusetts
Massachusetts, renowned as America’s manufacturing epicenter in the mid-19th century, is rapidly regaining its spot as a leading manufacturing center, but with a 21st century twist. The state’s robust innovation economy has stimulated a new era of advanced manufacturing that relies on high-tech, precision machinery to produce a range of products including medical devices, robots, military equipment, green-energy technology and video games. Governor Deval Patrick recognizes the potential of advanced manufacturing to create jobs and move the economy forward. In his recent State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Patrick emphasized the strength of advanced manufacturing in our innovation economy. A few days after the address, Governor Patrick traveled to western Massachusetts to tour Advanced Manufacturing Co, Inc of Westfield, a family-owned business that makes precision parts for submarines, jets, helicopters and the International Space Station. Founded in 1962, the company has 200 workers. The governor’s commitment to advanced manufacturing is longstanding. In 2011 he launched the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC), a group of leaders from industry, academia and government formed to map out a strategy for this emerging sector. The group created a five-point agenda to Promote Manufacturing, Educate the Workforce, Provide Technical Assistance, Ease the Cost of Doing Business and Gain Access to Capital Resources. See Governor Patrick on the Today Show talking about manufacturing. In its economic development plan, Choosing to Compete in the 21st century, the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development has identified Building Talent as one of five key initiatives. Indeed, one of our biggest challenges over the next decade is to train up to 100,000 skilled workers to enter the advanced manufacturing industry. AMC is working with high schools, vocational schools, community colleges and universities to provide training in computer and engineering courses to meet this demand. In a recent visit to Springfield Technical Community College, EOHED Secretary Greg Bialecki praised western Massachusetts for “deliberately seizing the opportunity” to bring precision manufacturing back. “You’ve got businesses, government, academic and community working together, saying let’s do it.” One program that is creating a buzz about advanced manufacturing is AMP iT UP!, a statewide promotional campaign educating students about manufacturing careers in Massachusetts. In December 2013, Mass Development announced nearly $110,000 in AMP it UP! matching grants to eleven programs across the Commonwealth that promote manufacturing as a career. This spring, the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative is holding its 2nd annual Advanced Manufacturing Summit on April 29, 2014 at the DCU Center in Worcester. The summit brings together hundreds of executives and managers to share industry best practices and to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the advanced manufacturing industry. Here is a list of manufacturers in Massachusetts
National Library Week in Massachusetts, April 13-19
(Caption: The Bates Reading Room at the Boston Public…
The Spirit of Massachusetts is its People
"Of all the sights that bring people to Massachusetts,…
Pax East 2014 - Future of Gaming is Now
Digital gaming is big business. If you need reassurance…
- Economic development projects add jobs in Massachusetts
- RT @MassAuditor: Your MA State House Library #NLW14 http://t.co/BWkOIrrHpr
- RT @Gatewaycities: .@dhcd Secretary Gornstein talks about @MassDev strength as a developer and the promise of the @Gatewaycities transformative devlpmnt fund
- RT @MSNewEngland: Browse the latest and greatest @MSFTResearch projects that were on display at #SVTechFair today! http://t.co/uM2mRxuYOs