DYS Education Initiative wins nationwide BreakFree competition

Home E CES Stories E DYS Education Initiative wins nationwide BreakFree competition
Article Author: Martha Maloney
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 2/12/2024
Article URL:

Woody Clift, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) Education Initiative at the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES), was thrilled to share that students from the Robert F Kennedy School in the DYS Northeast Region have won first prize in the nationwide BreakFree Unexplored competition.

BreakFree Education is a national organization that partners directly with juvenile justice agencies across the country, providing the resources, training, and networks to make school relevant and meaningful. The competitions sponsored by BreakFree provide engaging, project-based activities for youth, and teachers leverage these interdisciplinary resources to teach across content areas so that students can apply, reflect on and demonstrate their learning.  The mission of BreakFree Education is to radically improve education in the juvenile and criminal justice systems by investing in the potential and dignity of all its students. 

The focus for this competition was Math and how it applies to the real world. Kennedy students- were taught about the Math involved in designing space suits for NASA astronauts and tasked with using their knowledge to design a space suit of their own. Sean Davidson, CES Northeast Regional Education Coordinator, explained that “Students explored slope and y-intercept and solved linear equations while investigating the risk of bone density loss and oxygen limitations for astronauts.” As part of the initiative, students designed a successful spacesuit. It was this work that culminated in the national first place award.

The  Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) has been a partner to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) since 2003, creating access to high-quality secondary and post-secondary education, career exploration, and workforce development opportunities for youth in the care and custody of DYS. CES is helping to equip an especially vulnerable population of young people with the tools they need to see their world, and themselves, in a new light.   

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