Falmouth STEM Boosters

Connecting Falmouth, MA public school teachers and students with science, technology, engineering and math resources and opportunities

Falmouth STEM Booster Blog

Marjot Foundation funds student science projects!














Are you a high-schooler with an idea for an ambitious environmentally-oriented science fair project that could use a little financial help?  That’s exactly what the Marjot Foundation is about.  They’re right here in Falmouth and have funded several recent FHS projects!  Check it out at http://marjotfoundation.org .  Their deadline is APRIL 1.

Science Fair!















The 2015 Science Fair is done, and what a great time it was!   In addition to the usual excitement this science fair was something of a coming-out party for the STEM Boosters.  We had our own table with board members present to talk to folks about our programs, and we had a “Coding Corner” with professional programmers showing kids (of all ages) what coding is about.   Thanks to Eliot Glist from Convention Data Services and Gwyneth Packard from WHOI for staffing the Coding Corner!



A phenomenal opportunity for High School kids over February vacation: Transom Teen Radio Workshop:



Evening of Code!

The first “Hour of Code Family Night” was a big success! The event was open to all and was held Thursday night in the Falmouth High School Library.  Organized by Wendy Haskell, Director of Technology and Library/Media, the evening gave students the chance to show their families what they had learned during their “Hour of Code” at school.    Technology teachers brought young student coders as assistants and the STEM Boosters invited three guest coders, pictured below, to share their expertise. 

For more information on the “Hour of Code”, go to code.org.  Also check out this Enterprise article: Falmouth Schools Embrace Hour Of Code.


Jon Howland (WHOI): I am an engineer in the Deep Submergence Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I was responsible for much of the code that operates Alvin and Jason, as well as a variety of other vehicles and systems. Modern engineering requires computing systems in design, operations, and analysis. Somebody has to write the code that turns ideas into practical operating systems, and that is where I found my niche. By being able to write code, I can justify being part of some great teams, working with good people and doing exciting things.


Pam DeFreitas (Convention Data Services): I have been with Convention Data Services for 6 years. I started as a Call Center Representative, and then started working as a Registration Coordinator. During that time I took classes in HTML and CSS and started taking on some technical tasks. I then become a Web Support Specialist during which time I learned classic ASP and JavaScript. I was then promoted to a Web Developer and have continued to further my education, by improving my skills and I am currently taking some courses in ASP.NET and C#.


Tom Campbell (Dinkum Software): I started coding a little bit in high school in 1968 on a programmable HP calculator the size of a cash register and using punch cards on a main frame. I continued coding in college and majored in Computer Science because it was fun. I was lucky enough to happen to enjoy something that ended up being in demand and paying reasonably well. I continued coding because it put a roof over my head and it was fun.

Updates – Donations

Though we have only just received our 501(c)(3) non-profit status, we have already received several generous donations!


photo courtesy Zephyr Education Foundation

A gift of $200 was used to fund buses to bring students from Lawrence and FHS to Woods Hole to participate in field trips with the Zephyr Education Foundation. Classes went on a 1.5 hour scientific cruise on a research vessel and conducted hands-on sampling activities modeled on actual research operations conducted at WHOI.

Another gift of $500 has been designated to buy equipment and supplies for the High School’s Technology Club.

There’s news about the Tech Club at  Open Source Advocate Mentors Falmouth Students In New Technology Club 



Members of the new Falmouth High School Tech Club (from left), seniors Dmitry Shribak and Daniel Morrison and sophomore Robert Taft, work in the basement of Falmouth Public Library over the summer. At right is the group’s advisor, Alex Perry.  Photo credit – Elizabeth W. Saito/Enterprise


Other Updates

Science Project Q/A:

Beginning this week STEM Booster volunteers will be available every Wednesday after school to consult with high school students on their science project progress in the FHS Library. No sign-ups are needed — students should just drop by and ask their questions!  

In mid-January, the Boosters will begin “Lunch with a Scientist” on Wednesdays at the Lawrence School.  STEM Booster volunteers will be stationed at a table in the Lawrence cafeteria and will be available to consult on science project questions.

If you’re interested in volunteering to help at any of these sessions, please drop us an email!

“Hour of Code” Family Night

Last year tens of millions of students of all ages and backgrounds, including many Falmouth public school students, tried an “Hour of Code”, a one hour introduction through code.org designed to demystify computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics.  This year during Computer Science Education Week, December 8 – 14, many of students will once again participate in an “Hour of Code” at their school.  Falmouth STEM Boosters will help sponsor an evening program where students can share their newly-acquired coding knowledge with their families.  Boosters volunteers who code as part of their jobs will also be on hand to share their experiences (drop us an email if this sounds up your alley).  The event, for Grades 1 – 6,  is Thursday evening, December 11 6:30 – 7:30 in the high school library. 

Teacher Survey

A primary aim of the STEM Boosters is to meet the needs of the teachers as best we can. To that end, we will soon be sending teachers an online survey so we can ascertain how to be most useful.  Stay tuned for updates!  Perhaps a student survey will follow…

January Public Meeting

Our next STEM Boosters public meeting will be held in January – date and time  to be determined. All are welcome!  Our first meeting was an hour filled with opportunities to learn and share.  It is gratifying what we can accomplish in a short time through personal interaction between teachers, STEM professionals, parents and community members.

Notes from our first Open Meeting!

Open Meeting 5 November 2014 — FHS Library

In attendance: Deborah Coulombe President, David Fisichella Treasurer, Benjamin van Mooy Director, James Newman Secretary, Jessica Mark Welch Director, Chris Brothers, Tracey Quidley, Heidi Egloff, Heather Goldstone, Carrie Fitzpatrick, Liping Xun, John Holmes, Chris Sherwood, Jessica Mark Welch, Cory Dubuque, Alex Perry.

Attendees introduced themselves and signed in.

Deb reviewed history and mission of FSB through PowerPoint. Emphasis on networking, connectivity, personal interactions and asking the teachers what they want. Announced that the official IRS 501(c)(3) letter had just been received! Jim was able to complete the paperwork on line and approval took only a month. Thank you, Jim!

Meeting open to general discussion. Topics included:

  1. Mentoring for science projects and general ideas for allowing students to contact STEM professionals… Can FSB’s website be a clearinghouse for students sending emails to scientists, etc? Does WHSTEP still maintain a ROV (Registry of Volunteers) that we/teachers/students can access? If not, should be maintain one? Deb will check with Wendy Haskell about the correct protocol/district regulations regarding students email contact.
  2. Value of holding special family/community events at the students’ schools on school days RATHER than on nights/weekend at venues other than schools. Many families are not able to return for an event if held OUTSIDE the school day/building.
  3. “Gear Up for the Science Fair” event possibly better suited to K-6 only given that mentoring and deadlines are already in place for 7 – 12. Can we set up an ongoing science mentoring “club” for interested kids at Lawrence? Several kids are hoping so. Cory reviewed successful “speed dating” model used for today’s science mentoring at FHS. Discussed upcoming “Hour of Code” (see www.code.org) and “Evening of Code” for families, Thursday Dec. 11 at FHS Library, 6:30 pm.
  4. Curriculum constraints need to be considered when developing programs, guest speakers, etc. Perhaps we should be asking teachers which lessons they find most challenging to teach so we could concentrate on finding suitable hands-on opportunities in those areas. Activities must help teachers use time effectively. We have links to common core curriculum on our website, but it would great to find a simpler version.
  5. In days past (5+ years ago?) there were opportunities and committees for K-12 teachers to meet and discuss science, math, etc.  Not currently. There are department heads (math, science) 7-12. In the elementary schools there are grade-level reps, teachers who could help disseminate STEM Booster news, etc. Zach Waddicor is the district’s new K-6 curriculum director and we should meet with him about STEM activities at the younger grades. (Deb – perhaps Zach as a guest speaker next meeting???)
  1. Buses for field trips are vitally needed – FSB used its first donation to pay for buses to Woods Hole for FHS Marine Ecology classes and Lawrence STEM class in order to take boat trips with Rob Reynolds and his Zephyr Education Foundation. Students/teachers unaware of the FSB donation – we should get some publicity/recognition in order to promote our mission. East Falmouth teachers very organized each year to win science fair group project award and use the money to pay for field trip buses.
  2. Chris Brothers identified MONEY and TIME as the limiting factors in STEM generally. The science department budget has been cut steadily and there is great reliance on grants to fund even ongoing programs like the STEM labs which were originally paid for with $30,000 “Race to the Top” funds. STEM Boosters must be careful not to pay for things that the school budget should cover. Perhaps teachers list expenses outside the regular school supplies and we try to help with those?
  3. FSB can advocate for better school funding/STEM funding by speaking at school committee and selectmen meetings. There is a selectman’s meeting Monday night November 10 at which a preliminary school budget will be discussed. It would be great to have people speak in the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.
  4. Announcement made that a $500 donation had been made to the Boosters to benefit the FHS tech club! Alex Perry, tech club supervisor, will purchase supplies as needed.
  5. Recent article in the Enterprise highlighted Booster groups (primarily sports but not exclusively) and Title IX rules: there must be equal distribution of funds between boys and girls. We will keep track of the groups that receive the $ should anyone want to go back and see who got what. Stay tuned for more info—

11. Check out the new Falmouth STEM Boosters Facebook page!

Thanks to all for attending! Next general meeting in January. Please spread the word about the FSB website, Facebook page and email list.


FSB is incorporated!   As of October 2, Falmouth STEM Boosters Inc is a not-for-profit Massachusetts corporation, capable of accepting tax-deductible donations.

We will be setting a meeting date soon for anyone interested in learning more about FSB! To get on our mailing list, so you’ll get notice of all our meetings and events, send us an email at fsb@falmouthstemboosters.org.


School’s in session! And FSB is kicking off…

Don’t miss the article in the Falmouth Bulletin about the exciting program that FHS/Lawrence Science department chair Chris Brothers participated in this summer!  http://falmouth.wickedlocal.com/article/20140827/NEWS/140827169/0/


Welcome to FSB!


Falmouth STEM Boosters is a new group forming to provide support to the STEM-related programs and curricula in the Falmouth (Massachusetts) Public Schools. We’re mostly parents of current FPS students, looking to help the schools give our kids the best possible STEM experiences.  It’s not really an organization yet, more an idea, and we’re open to your thoughts!  If you have ideas or just want to be involved please get in touch or leave a comment.

(Sorry if it seems like jargon — STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)


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