An advocate for STEM education

Duyen Nyugen | MIT Open Learning
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“I firmly believe that every student needs strong STEM foundations regardless of their passion or future career goals because this world will only become [more] dependent on advances in STEM fields.” - MIT's Inge Gedo

Since graduating from the MIT School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Inge Gedo, Course 21S, HU and SCI (German & Biology) ’85 has had a diverse and rewarding career — first in the United States Air Force and now as an educator teaching STEM and language classes for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. Her background spans from biology to international relations to fundraising. A connecting thread? Her commitment to improving education, especially for pK-12 students, teachers, and families.

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools around the world to move classes online, the pK-12 community was top-of-mind for Gedo. She reached out to Professor Eric Klopfer, director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT, whom she had met several years before at an MIT luncheon in Washington, D.C. Gedo knew of the many pK-12 education efforts happening at MIT — from outreach programs to online activities to research on the science of learning. As a member of the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors, a K-12 STEM engagement advocate and volunteer, and a teacher herself, she saw not only an opportunity but a need for MIT to share these resources with educators, parents, and students around the world.

Gedo recalls, “It was great to see that MIT was already thinking about bringing together the Institute’s efforts in pK-12 education-related work and came up rapidly with the Full STEAM Ahead program.”

Led by Klopfer and Dr. Claudia Urrea, Senior Associate Director for pK-12 at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), Full STEAM Ahead is a free, online collection of MIT’s resources for remote teaching and learning. And as soon as it launched, Gedo told everyone in her global networks of parents, teachers, and MIT alumni about it. “And I asked each person with whom I shared it to share it with all of their networks of friends, colleagues, neighborhood families, etc.”

Over the next six months, Full STEAM Ahead began to transform the landscape of pK-12 online learning, releasing engaging content for students and teachers, such as interactive themed “Learning Packages,” and coordinating with local schools to develop online summer and fall programs for middle and high schoolers. To date, learners from 150 countries have benefited from Full STEAM Ahead’s “hands-on remote learning” resources. The site received 130,000 page views from 45,000 unique viewers from mid-April to the end of the 2020 academic year, and over 800 students applied to the summer program. For its innovations in K-12 education, Full STEAM Ahead received a prestigious Wharton-QS Reimagine Education Award in December 2020. The program will host a virtual academic enrichment summer session that combines hands-on exploration, project design, and skill building in STEM subjects.

The impact of Full STEAM Ahead was all that Gedo could’ve hoped for as an advocate. Long before the pandemic, Gedo had been raising awareness about resources for improving learning, particularly the efforts of her alma mater to transform pK-12 education. “All aspects of this work is important, and I want MIT to be involved in it,” she says, explaining why she regularly donates to the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili) and pK-12 Action Group, two of several initiatives based out of MIT Open Learning that are devoted to studying and improving primary and secondary education.

Gedo says the mission behind these efforts — to transform learning for all students — is especially close to her heart. “I think that while advanced academic STEM education and opportunities need support to develop the best and the brightest to reach their potential for the future,” she explains, “I also firmly believe that every student needs strong STEM foundations regardless of their passion or future career goals because this world will only become [more] dependent on advances in STEM fields.”

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Gedo’s volunteer roles also include work with the Boy Scouts of America.

Along with her support of MITili, the pK-12 Action Group, and other pK-12 education initiatives at MIT, Gedo is an active member of the MIT community. Not only is she on the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors, but she was the President for the Class of 1985 for 35 years and continues to lead as a Class officer and organizer of the Decade of the 80s mini-reunions globally; she is also Director for the MIT Club of Washington, D.C., a reunions volunteer, an educational counselor, a women’s soccer alumnae organizer, and a science fair judge, among many other volunteer roles. Gedo has also received the Henry B. Kane ’24 Award in 2016, which recognizes her exceptional service and accomplishments in fundraising for MIT and the Alumni Association. Gedo also received the Great Dome Award in 2020, given in recognition of distinguished service by alumni organizations.

“Without solid foundations for all people, the gaps in knowledge, equity, income, happiness, productivity, and many other measures of success for our country and people in this world will only grow wider,” Gedo says. “Therefore, I firmly believe in and support the efforts to transform learning for all students.”