Bedford’s Lisa Freed Speaks on Panel at Boy Scouts STEM Event

October 31, 2023
Among those taking part at the launch of the inaugural Growing Youth Engagement in STEM Initiative at LabCentral in Cambridge were Interim Scout Executive/CEO of the Spirit of Adventure Council Jonathan Pleva, Chief Medical Officer of Arkuda Therapeutics Serena Hung, Senior Research Associate at Cell Signaling Technology Rebecca Swearingen, iRobot STEM Manager Lisa Freed, and Director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory Dr. Eric Evans. Courtesy photo

Submitted by Regan Communications

The Boy Scouts Spirit of Adventure Council launched its inaugural Growing Youth Engagement in STEM Initiative with an event at LabCentral in Kendall Square. The event brought together STEM and Life Sciences professionals passionate about science and helping youth. 

The program featured discussions on STEM and the importance of securing a future rich with diverse STEM leaders. 

Among the panelists was Bedford’s Lisa Freed, STEM Manager at iRobot.

Freed spoke in depth about the opportunities iRobot brings to local students such as virtual tours, STEM nights, and visits to the Children’s Museum. 

“These kids are so hungry for this stuff. Whatever you can do at your respective companies, at your personal job, just talk to them so you can begin to engage now,” said Freed.

Also on the panel were Dr. Eric Evans, Director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Serena Hung, most recent Chief Medical Officer at Arkuda Therapeutics; and Rebecca Swearingen, Senior Research Associate at Cell Signaling Technology. 

Attendees learned about the STEM curriculum Scouts are exposed to and participated in discussions about what it takes to secure a future career in STEM. 

Dave Clayman, Spirit of Adventure Council Board President, CEO Twelve Points Wealth Management which helped to sponsor the event, started the discussion with opening remarks on the importance of STEM education.   

“The key is showing the community how we’re evolving, how things are changing, how Scouting is still a relevant resource. Those Twelve Points of Scouting, those core values, are extremely important today, but so is the ability to evolve and show what else Scouting offers. Access to a very rich STEM curriculum, the unbelievable resources we have throughout our technology belt, our career focus Exploring Program and taking that to the next level and really offering opportunities for kids to learn and grow and reach their dreams,” said Clayman. 

Evans is an Eagle Scout himself and a Scout Master in Carlisle. He spoke about the strides the Scouts have taken in offering STEM opportunities to Scouts, even when he was growing up.

“My interest in STEM areas really grew in Scouting through all the merit badge work and all the mentoring that occurred there. There are currently 138 merit badges in Scouting and about 30 of them are directly correlated to STEM. They cover electronics, chemistry, robotics, environmental science, there’s just so many,” said Evans.  

Hung explained the difficulties small businesses face when trying to get students involved in their companies.

“For bigger companies they have more formal and structured programs and they have a process of reaching out to the schools. It’s a much more organized experience,” said Hung. “Whereas with smaller companies it’s harder. They typically work with other organizations to try to get summer interns from underserved communities. But for those small companies to actually go out to solicit requests or let people know that they have such capacity is really difficult, so small companies have to work through other people and organizations. It’s good to know that organizations like Scouting exists.” They already have the youth and the curriculum, it’s just a matter of connecting with them. 

The event also featured several live demonstrations from MIT Lincoln Laboratory showcasing the future of STEM such as software that can digitally modify your face, a program used to remotely sense disasters, and an AI ultrasound device that can help first responders find blood vessels quickly. Next to each demonstration was a printout of how an aspect of the demonstration is offered in the Scouting curriculum today. 

To learn more about The Spirit of Adventure Council and the STEM programs they offer, visit https://www.scoutspirit.org/

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