Celebrating STEM Standouts in Boston: The Akamai Scholars Program

May 28, 2015

Tuesday was a special day in Boston.  NewSchools, in partnership with Akamai, held its annual Akamai Scholars Program to honor top 8th grade STEM scholars in high-quality charter school networks citywide.  The 12 students represent six growing charter networks in Boston that have been supported by NewSchools: Brooke Charter Schools, Excel Academy Charter Schools, KIPP Massachusetts, Match Education, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, and UP Education Network.

These STEM scholars are impressive.  They regularly demonstrate curiosity, initiative, and hard work. Their love of learning and exploration is inspiring. Among the group are scholars who have taken independent courses to learn coding, are science fair winners, and are leaders in their schools. In the future, they aspire to be doctors, lawyers, and business owners. What a pleasure it was for NewSchools to spend the day with these scholars and celebrate their successes.

The day started at the MIT Museum, where the scholars enjoyed a robotics workshop.  Soon the scholars progressed from simple commands – like programming the robots to go forward – to whole sequences of actions, including turns. When a robot didn’t perform as planned, the scholars exhibited their scientific skills, assessing what went wrong and adjusting their code to address the problem. 

Scholars from Excel Academy Charter Schools and Roxbury Preparatory Charter School program a robot at the MIT Museum.
Scholars from Excel Academy Charter Schools and Roxbury Preparatory Charter School program a robot at the MIT Museum.

Next, we headed to Akamai’s Cambridge headquarters, where the scholars had an in-depth conversation with Ron Chaney, VP of Engineering. The scholars were especially interested in hearing about Ron’s path and about what qualifications would prepare them to work at Akamai. They were also interested in cyber security and how Akamai helps keep clients secure online.  The scholars’ great questions made for a lively discussion!

To finish the day, the group toured Akamai’s Network Operations Center, which gave scholars a good sense of the immense nature of Akamai’s operations, and the role that math plays in optimizing the company’s performance.

We were all grateful to Akamai for hosting our visit and spending so much time with us. Founded in 1998, Akamai is the leading provider of cloud services for helping enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences on any device, anywhere. Akamai believes in the wonderful possibilities for the future and supports math education and excellence in the next generation of technology innovators.

In honor of these scholars’ accomplishments, NewSchools presented each scholar with an iPad Air, which the students will use to help further their academic exploration and learning. NewSchools plans to follow these scholars through their bright futures – we can’t wait to see what they each accomplish as they head off to high school and beyond!