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$20,000 Grant Boosts G-D Science Program

June 24, 2008

By Hiroko Sato, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Jun. 23–GROTON — For budding scientists, high school will soon be a place to do more than simply toss around ideas. They’ll be able to make them a reality using high-tech gadgets.

The high school will soon receive $20,000 worth of equipment to outfit its technology-fabrication lab, thanks to the grant the Groton-Dunstable Science Technology Engineering & Math Foundation (GDSTEM) secured for the school.

From helping buy lab coats and mechanical drawing tools to organizing lectures on topics like radio astronomy, the parents in GDSTEM, or the “booster club” for science education, are determined to give the school all the support they can to raise the next generation of scientists.

“Today, (science is) not being emphasized enough,” GDSTEM member and spokesman Gary Hoglund said.

GDSTEM is now in full operation after more than a year of preparation and its recent incorporation as a nonprofit organization. The Groton-Dunstable Regional School District has a memorandum of understanding with the club that spells out rules about donations so the public understands that money from the organization will not influence the curriculum, Hoglund said.

More than 100 parents and community members have signed up for the GDSTEM e-mail list.

Ellen Barkhuff, science curriculum coordinator at Groton-Dunstable High School, and Dorothy Dwyer, a K-8 science curriculum coordinator, spearheaded the booster-club project last year after some people said they wanted

to get involved. About 50 parents stepped forward as volunteers, and some core members began putting together an organization similar to other groups, such as the Acton Parent Involvement Project.

GDSTEM’s goal is to spark the students’ interests in science and technology, and encourage them to pursue careers in the field.

The organization has a database of talent and skill that includes many members of the community. Anyone can visit the Web site, www.gdstem.org, to put his or her name on the list.

The club has already hosted some events, including the May 29 workshop, “Radio telescope array in the Australian outback” for local middle- and high-school students. The lecturer was Roger Cappallo of MIT’s Haystack Observatory in Westford. GDSTEM also has made arrangements for local families interested in attending science fairs in Boston.

Most recently, the club secured a $20,000 grant from the Groton Trust Fund, Hoglund said. The request for the funding came from Michael Donnelly, an engineering design and technology teacher at the high school, Hoglund said.

GDSTEM hopes to tie physics into the SKID class — a driving class for students — next year. It also is looking to continue fundraising and partner with the Acton-Boxboro Booster Club for science fairs.

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