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MA Volunteers Needed for 6th Grade Students through DIGITS - All regions of Mass Needed Now

Type:  Announcements  

Volunteers Needed for 6th Grade Classrooms: the DIGITS Project. 


Sign up by January 31 for classroom visits this academic year


Sign up at:

We're seeking volunteers for DIGITS!
Most of our DIGITS volunteers last year visited 4 classrooms and interacted with approximately 87 students.  We are asking volunteers this year to continue that level of outreach.
The DIGITS schedule for the FY2012 academic year is that we will do Worcester County and Western Massachusetts this fall.  We are also doing a small pilot program in the Berkshires this fall, with the help of the Berkshire Compact and the Berkshire STEM Network.  In mid-late December we'll start promoting the need for voluneers in eastern Mass (northeast, southeast, and Greater Boston) in early January.  
Although this recruitment effort is primarily for Central and Western Massachusetts, volunteers may, of course, sign up for eastern Massachusetts now, with the understanding that DIGITS will not be contact them until January 2012.   If you are a returning volunteer:  you will be asked to participate in a shortened training session to refresh your memory and to learn about the new elements of the program. 
We look forward to having another awesome group of volunteers to match with schools in Central and Western Mass.  Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.   Thanks again for your incredible support of The DIGITS Project.  
Sign up to voluneer at:


About DIGITS: 


Massachusetts is not graduating enough students qualified in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to continue its tradition of scientific discovery and technological innovation.  The science and technology industry needs more students in the STEM pipeline to fill the jobs that are being created now and in the future.  We believe that our best chance for success is to work with schools to reinforce the importance of math and science education and to introduce the variety of career opportunities available to students in STEM fields. 


Organized by six Massachusetts science and technology  associations*, the DIGITS Project seeks to increase middle school student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers by partnering STEM professionals – individuals who work in science and technology companies and agencies - with the schools in the Commonwealth that have a sixth grade.  


We are actively seeking volunteers from Massachusetts firms and agenies to participate in the DIGITS Project.  After an employee volunteers, he/she will participate in a 60-minute training session by phone (before or after regular business hours) and will then be matched to a school near where they live or work.  Each volunteer is asked to visit a minimum of two math/science classes per school.  


Important Role of Company Volunteers
The role of STEM professionals/volunteers– called STEM Ambassadors in the DIGITS Project - is a crucial one.  Their project training prepares them to:

  • Deliver a message to students that by taking math and science throughout school, students will have a variety of careers that will be open to them; 
  • Inspire students with their personal stories and their enthusiasm for their work; and  
  • Motivate students to pursue math and science careers by emphasizing the benefits and rewards that STEM careers offer.


Last year, during the inaugural year of the project, 154 volunteers from 44 companies, visited classrooms in 118 schools in 79 cities and towns across the state, and motivated more than 10,000 students to study math and science. Volunteers were representative of a wide range of STEM sectors including software/robotics,

telecommunications/wireless, engineering, biotech, clean energy, and  medical devices.  Volunteer demographics included 41% women and 23% minority. 


An independent evaluator reported that:

  • Teachers gave the DIGITS message, materials, and volunteers a high or very high rating. 
  • 97% of the teachers surveyed would recommend the DIGITS Project to others. 
  • Students showed a statistically significant increase in their interest in math/science as a result of the classroom visits and the DIGITS presentation.


All participating volunteers are prepared by the DIGITS Project for a successful classroom experience.  Prior to entering the classroom, volunteers are:


  • Coached on best practices in presenting to middle school students,
  • Provided with a detailed set of talking points/script, visual materials and interactive exercises - all the materials they will need to deliver the program,
  • Matched to schools within a reasonable distance from where they live or work.


Recruiting Company Volunteers – Next Steps

We are now recruiting volunteers to serve as STEM Ambassadors in the middle school classrooms of all of Eastern Massachusetts  for the Winter and Spring of 2011.  We hope that your company will agree to participate in this project. Due to the projected number of sixth-grade students in Eastern Massachusetts, we are asking you to recruit between 6-8 volunteers.   Our rollout schedule is:  Northeastern Mass – Jan/Feb; Greater Boston – March/April; Southeastern Mass – May/June.


To assist in the recruitment process, we are asking you to:


1.  Identify individuals in your company who have expressed an interest in volunteering. 
The key characteristics we are looking for in volunteers are: 

  • Currently engaged in a STEM job
  • Approximately 5-10 years out of college or graduate school,
  • Enthusiastic about their work,
  • Skilled public speakers,
  • Able to relate to children,
  • Representative of the workforce as a whole – including women and minorities.


2.  Send this information to them to provide them with the details about this program. 
3.  Ask your volunteers to go to the DIGITS Project website at to register for the program as soon as possible.  Volunteers should use the Sign Up button for Company/Volunteers in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.  The registration process entails filling out a brief survey to get some basic information to assist in the school matching process.  We are particularly interested in your help in recruiting volunteers with diverse ethnic backgrounds and who would be willing to work in designated areas of the state.
Thanks for your Help
We are very appreciative of your willingness to help us recruit volunteers for this project.  We know that when a volunteer gives a little time, it makes a big difference in the lives of students.  Attached is a Fact Sheet describing the project in greater detail.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at the addresses and phone numbers below.  Thank you for your interest.  We look forward to working with you.




Joyce Plotkin,                                                    Carol Greenfield, Project Director, The DIGITS Project,
Chairman & CEO, The DIGITS Project                617-872-8602    

President Emerita, Mass Technology

Leadership Council      


 *The DIGITS Project was created by six leading industry associations: The Engineering Center (host organization); Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council; Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, affiliated with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council; the Massachusetts Network Communications Council (now a part of the Mass Tech Leadership Council); Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council; and New England Clean Energy Council. 


The Project is being implemented in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Massachusetts of Elementary School Principals Association, and the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association.   Originally funded by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s STEM Pipeline Fund and the Mass Technology Leadership Council, the initiative is now underwritten by STEM companies including The MathWorks, Analog Devices, SolidWorks, Verizon, Cisco, Meditech, PTC, and IBM.


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