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    CPS Partnerships (Part Two) 

    In this space last week, I discussed the many ways in which the university community provides incredible learning opportunities for students in the Cambridge Public Schools.  This week we look at our extraordinary businesses in the city, which also care enough about Cambridge kids to make a real difference in their lives.  CPS is especially appreciative of the leadership of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce for helping us forge these critically important relationships, which mutually benefit our partners and our schools.

    All good partnerships work both ways, and this attribute is true in the rich array of relationships we have built in Cambridge.  Together, we strengthen connections and relations across our city’s sectors.  We provide ways for business employees and university faculty to grow from engaging with the richly diverse set of individuals and groups located across the city.  We jointly invest in the next generation of employees, leaders and innovators, thereby modeling workforce and economic development on a local level.  And, of course, we provide CPS students with unparalleled opportunities to make “real-world” connections to their academic studies. 

    With apologies to those partners whose names do not appear here, let me offer you a brief, incomplete sample of the extraordinary things happening today in the city.

    Biogen Idec’s Community Lab, the longest-running hands-on community lab in the country, has welcomed hundreds of Cambridge students since opening its doors in 2002. Throughout the school year, students get to mingle with real scientists through an array of interactive activities and programs. Biogen has also supported biotechnology students at the Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA) program at CRLS in their genetic research program.

    This year, Novartis marked its 10th year of participation in the NetPals program, a STEM mentoring program for our 7th graders. Students and company volunteers regularly email one another and meet in person several times a year to discuss the many career paths that are available to them.  The NetPals program, organized by Cambridge School Volunteers, is a non-profit endeavor that pairs corporate and university volunteers with students throughout the year. MIT, Harvard, Oracle, Grace Construction, Skanska and others have participated in NetPals over the years. Many of these companies have also signed on to Cambridge School Volunteers’ Reading Buddies program where their employees visit first, second or third grade classrooms to read aloud to students once or twice a week.

    The Broad Institute has collaborated with the CPS Science Department in developing the new 8th grade genetics and evolution unit and has paired each school with a team of scientists that spend one day per week throughout the entire unit supporting the classroom teacher and even teaching their own lessons. The Broad Institute provided classroom teachers a venue for professional development, and scientists provided content support.

    This year Google is sponsoring a STEAM field experience for all 7th graders to the new Museum of Science exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar. Google is funding all transportation, exhibit and Omni Theatre admission costs and providing lunch for Cambridge students.

    Microsoft has graciously opened their NERD Center to be the host site for a wide range of community events and forums aimed at supporting our educators, students and families.  Microsoft has a special interest in working with CPS to locally cultivate the development of the next generation of computer science engineers.  At CRLS, Microsoft places industry professionals alongside our faculty in the TEALS (Technology, Education and Literacy) computer science program.  Microsoft’s Youth Spark program brings Cambridge kids to the company’s Kendall Square office to learn about career paths in technology and finance.

    CRLS has been lucky for the better part of the past decade to have access to a summer internship program at Draper Labs.  Students are paired with research scientists at Draper and work on projects alongside their mentors.  The work of the CRLS student interns is always part of the experimental and/or design outcomes of the projects.  Highlights include a Mars rover experiment and one former intern even took his gap year as a fulltime employee at Draper.  Every intern presents his or her work in a fall presentation at Draper with all the projects exhibited in a forum for everyone in the company and guest community members to see. 

    In recent years, Education First (EF), a Cambridge-based company, has partnered with CRLS to, in their words, “help inspire the next generation of leaders to take a global perspective to local problem-solving.  EF mentors guide CRLS student teams to put their solutions into practice by using design thinking and high-level presentation skills.  CRLS winners of past EF Glocal Challenges have travelled to Costa Rica and China.”

    Since 1988, the CRLS community and especially its students have benefitted from the in-school branch of the East Cambridge Savings bank to conduct their personal banking.   Every year, eight high school students who enroll in our Banking Course receive direct training as tellers during a two week long session during the summer with ECSB professional staff, and apply their knowledge and skills serving as actual tellers-in-training in the school branch of the Bank. 

    From providing on-site access to real world environments to volunteering their time and real world experiences, our business and university partnerships are helping to elevate our students’ academic performances as well as their career aspirations. I thank our partners and look forward to supporting this collaborative effort and helping further their commitment to our schools and their investment in our students’ education and enrichment.

    (This post also appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle on October 15, 2015.) 

    Posted by jyoung On October 15, 2015 at 2:46 PM