FAQs

Here’s how your school can participate in the STEM Week Challenge!

ABOUT
What is Zero Waste? Why is it the theme of the STEM Week Challenge?
The concept of Zero Waste centers on minimizing and eliminating resource waste by reducing, recovering, and reusing materials, products, and packaging.

During the STEM Week Challenge, students will have an opportunity to dig deeper into sustainability topics and take an in-depth look at the goods and energy we consume. Through hands-on activities anchored in STEM, students will learn how to apply their collective creativity and innovation to solve a real-world waste challenge. Through their problem-solving efforts, students will forge relationships with local community and industry partners as they pursue Zero Waste solutions.

What is STEM Week and when is it?
STEM Week is a statewide effort to boost the interest, awareness and ability for all learners to envision themselves in STEM education and employment opportunities, and compliment the formal instruction happening in the Commonwealth beyond STEM week. It will take place October 21-25 2019.
What is Project Lead The Way?
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop and apply in-demand, transportable skills by exploring real-world challenges. Through PLTW’s pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, students not only learn technical skills, but also learn to solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate, and collaborate. PLTW also provides teachers with the training, resources, and support they need to engage students in real-world learning.
What is Mass STEM Hub?
Our mission is to provide schools with access to and support for applied learning and STEM education that builds knowledge and skills students need to succeed in a rapidly-changing, high-tech world. We do this through best in class applied learning and STEM curriculum, authentic industry connection, and dedicated educator support.

Who should I contact if I have other questions?
Contact stemweek@mass-stemhub.org. We’re happy to help!
Signing Up
How do I sign up for the challenge?
Visit STEMWeekChallenge.org to sign up today!
Curriculum
How much does the curriculum for the PLTW STEM Week Challenge cost?
Thanks to support from One8 Foundation, teacher and student resources associated with the STEM Week Challenge are available to you for free!
How much time do I need to dedicate to this?
The challenge is designed to be delivered over 10 instructional hours. This time gives students the opportunity to build the knowledge (around Zero Waste) and skills (in the areas of engineering and design) they need to be able to design and develop solutions to the real-world problem associated with the challenge.
What if I have more than 10 hours to dedicated to this?
That’s great! The STEM Week Challenge facilitator guides developed by Project Lead The Way map out the experience and also include helpful teacher resources and optional extensions designed to dive deeper.
What is APB?
The activity-, project-, problem-based (APB) instructional approach helps students become active and engaged learners by creating student-centered learning experiences in which teachers act as facilitators, rather than lecturers. In this environment, students begin to lead their own discovery as they work through hands-on activities, projects, and problems that become increasingly open-ended as they progress through the curriculum and more challenging as they advance to higher grades.

  • Activities: Activities empower students to develop knowledge and skills they’ll use to navigate a real-world project and problem. Activities are structured, hands-on learning experiences.
  • Projects: Projects help students explore a real-world challenge and make meaningful connections. Students draw on the preparation provided in the previous activities to identify and propose solutions.
  • Problems: Problems challenge students to apply what they’ve learned through the activities and projects. They reflect real-world challenges and are open-ended, with no one “right” answer.

The APB approach not only makes learning more relevant, but it also empowers students to develop both technical and in-demand skills that are valuable and transportable across all industries. These skills – including problem solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and ethical reasoning – are critical to students’ success later in life and are proven to be the most demanded and valued in the job market.

Training
How much does teacher training cost?
Thanks to support from One8 Foundation, teacher training associated with the STEM Week Challenge is available to you for free!
When and where is training?
Teacher trainings will be offered in four locations during the week of September 23rd. Register at STEMWeekChallenge.org, or reach out to stemweek@mass-stemhub.org with any questions.

  • Tues, Sept. 24, 1pm-4pm, UMass Lowell
  • Wed. Sept. 25, 9am-12pm, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Wed. Sept. 25, 3pm-6pm, Westfield State University
  • Thurs. Sept. 26, 9am-12pm, Roxbury Community College
Do all the teachers in my school have to attend training?
No – only one teacher per school is required to attend training for a school to participate in the STEM Week Challenge. It is recommended that two teachers attend, though up to three are invited to attend. As the training was designed using a train-the-trainer model, those who attend training will be equipped to train other teachers at your school.
What is the train-the-trainer model?
The train-the-trainer model – used in the STEM Week Challenge teacher trainings – prepares trained teachers to not only facilitate the STEM Week Challenge learning experience with students in their classrooms, but also rain fellow educators at their schools to deliver the STEM Week Challenge learning experience to their students.
Participation
Do I need to have Project Lead The Way in my school currently to participate?
No – the STEM Week Challenge is open to all K-12 schools in the Commonwealth.
Do I have to be a STEM teacher to participate?
No – all K-12 Massachusetts teachers, no matter what subjects they teach, are welcome to bring the challenge to their classrooms. The only requirement is that teachers attend the training or be trained by a teacher who attended training.
Do students need to have any prior experience to participate?
No – the STEM Week Challenge is designed to be accessible to all K-12 students.
With the goal of helping all students see themselves in STEM, PLTW created each activity, project, and problem to be:

  • Scaffolded with entry points for all learners, regardless of STEM experience.
  • Developmentally appropriate.
  • Engaging to learners of all backgrounds.
Can all students, at all grade levels, participate?
Yes – the STEM Week Challenge is open to all K-12 students.
Each of the four grade bands will tackle a specific real-world problem associated with Zero Waste:

  • Grades K-2: Food Waste
  • Grades 3-5: Energy Waste
  • Grades 6-8: Plastic Waste
  • Grades 9-12: E-Waste
How do I participate?
  1. Sign up at STEMWeekChallenge.org to stay up to date with all the latest information.
  2. Join the challenge! Registration opens right after Labor Day and closes by Sept. 18.
  3. Train at least one teacher – training for current PLTW teachers is a self-paced online module that will be available at the end of September. For non-PLTW teachers, training is three hours in person, at least three training will be offered the week of Sept. 23 across the state. Trained teachers can train other teachers in their building.
  4. Carve out 10 hours of instructional time between early October and the end of MASS STEM Week (Oct. 21-25) to run the program in your school.
  5. Participate in the end-of-week showcase to connect with industry professionals or submit online to compete virtually.
Industry Connection
What type of industry and career connections opportunities will students be able to access through the challenge?
The STEM Week Challenge is designed to provide many opportunities for students to draw connections between their classroom experience and the world of work. STEM Week Challenge career and industry connections include the following:

  • Opportunities to tackle real-world sustainability problems that organizations such as TD Garden and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) face today
  • Embedded opportunities for students to connect with STEM professionals, both virtually and in person
  • A final project that challenges students to design and develop solutions to a real-world problem tied to the theme of “Zero Waste”
  • A showcase event on Friday, October 25, during which students will present their work to community leaders and industry professionals
What is the showcase event on Friday, Oct. 25? How do I participate?
On Friday, October 25 – the final day of Mass STEM Week – there will be a STEM Week Challenge student showcase in Boston. This event will provide opportunities for students to share their Zero Waste solutions, engage with industry experts, receive feedback on their work, and celebrate their achievements! STEM Week Challenge participants will receive an invitation to this event once registered for the challenge.
Questions? Reach out to stemweek@mass-stemhub.org.
Volunteers
What’s the time commitment?
Flexible! There are a variety of opportunities to get involved – both in person and virtually, both during STEM Week and during the surrounding weeks.
What are the ways I can get involved?
  • Virtual expert mentor: Be accessible via email and/or virtual meeting during STEM Week (Oct 21-25) to answer questions for students as they start prototyping Zero Waste solutions. Flexible scheduling and time commitment!
  • Showcase judge: Join students on October 25th as they present their prototypes in Boston (exciting location to be announced!) Talk to students, share your feedback, and help select showcase winners.
    Watch this brief video to hear from students and judges at a different PLTW showcase last year.
  • Virtual judge: Review online submissions to the Zero Waste Challenge, give feedback, and help us select winners! Flexible time commitment and scheduling in the weeks following STEM Week (Oct 28-Nov 8).
  • Have an idea? Register to let us know, or contact us directly at stemweek@mass-stemhub.org
Do I have to be a scientist or an expert on Zero Waste to volunteer?
No! We are looking for professionals from a variety of industries and functions to volunteer for the STEM Week Challenge.