AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, the Maine Senate gave initial approval to legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would establish a life-science mobile learning lab. The vote was 21-11.
LD 1389, An Act to Establish a Mobile Learning Lab would expand traditional educational opportunities in life science and engineering for public students across the state. It would also expose students to career opportunities in life science and equip them with the skills and experience necessary to pursue this line of work later on.
“The Mobile Learning Lab will provide more students with the opportunity to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in a state-of-the-art lab. It’s about leveling the playing field in education, opening up pathways to good-paying careers, closing gaps in our workforce and investing in this emerging sector of Maine’s economy. It’s also cost-effective,” said President Jackson. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate who joined me in supporting this bill. I’m hopeful the House follows our lead.”
“My interest and career in the biological sciences was catalyzed in middle school through participation in STEM enrichment programs similar to learning activities that will be provided by the Mobile Learning Lab. I add my strong support today, informed by 20 years of genetics and genomics education program development, my time as a high school teacher and through 13 years of experience as a Town of Mount Desert school board member and past chair of K-8, high school and our regional school boards,” said Charles Wray, Vice President of Genomic Education at The Jackson Laboratory in written testimony. “The Mobile Learning Lab will deliver engaging, participatory, and cutting-edge science and technology experiences to every county in Maine and The Jackson Laboratory is excited to join in this effort.”
President Jackson introduced the proposal to support a Mobile Learning Lab after conversations with EducateMaine and the Roux Institute. It reflects a push to ensure that more Maine students have the life-science skills needed to enter Maine’s economy.
The initiative has already secured federal funding for the bus and equipment. President Jackson’s proposal would supply funds to complete the planning phase, develop a challenging curriculum and get the program up and running.
LD 1389 is supported by the Maine Principals’ Association, the Roux Institute, the Maine Community College System, The Jackson Laboratory, the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, the Executive Director of the Maine Discovery Museum, BioME, and Learning Undefeated.
The measure faces additional votes in both the House and the Senate.