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STEM-Centric Career Assessments

When are students losing interest in STEM? The answer is earlier than we thought. In a study focused on interest in astrology, scientists found middle school is the time the desire significantly declines. The study was based off of asking students of four different age groups what their interests were, and they wanted to do when they grew up. Categories ranged from taking care of animals to watching science fiction. The results also showed that children are less likely to choose astrology if they had never been star gazing. Proving once more how beneficial and important introducing STEM, especially early on, is to a child’s potential career path. A positive find in the study was proof that even if a student did not pursue Astronomy, an introduction to the subject led them to something else in the STEM field.

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Youths commonly see something in a movie or on a TV show and say “I want to do that!” or “if she can do it so can I!” There is an incline of science and technology influence, especially with female roles, in the media – a great way to introduce young audiences to STEM careers. For parents, it is essential to encourage and support behavior in STEM if their young children are interested in the subjects.  This new wave of STEM in the media will hopefully inspire young females to see strong role models in STEM fields and want to pursue them. Examples such as The Big Bang Theory, The Imitation Game and most recently Ghostbusters, all cast strong female lead roles with STEM jobs. These are the stepping stones to increasing females in STEM.

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Technology has always been a large part of the classroom, improving learning and allowing curriculum to be taught in unique ways. Virtual Reality (VR) has the power to completely transform the classroom in the coming years and could change the way we educate students. Instead of simply lecturing on the Solar System, for example, VR gives educators the opportunity to visually re-create content for students. The technology is great to boost creativity and exploration, making learning like a real life The Magic School Bus. This article highlights how Virtual Reality was introduced to a classroom in a suburb of Chicago, and the students’ experience with topics they read about in books coming to life.

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How to make teaching history more interesting? Have students use what they enjoy to spend time on – social media. Instead of just lecturing on the previous presidents, allow the students to create a social media campaign about them. Youth are basically social media gurus so let them prove their knowledge while they learn. This article highlights ideas on how to engage students using social media, a brilliant way to use relevant technology in the classroom. Educators should continue developing unique ways of incorporating technology in the curriculum so students receive a fun experience while learning new innovations.

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Young learners often ask how to make an impact on the world. As a part of a summer internship at MIT four high school students helped improve the global water shortage by making a portable filtration system that turns salt water into fresh water. The students developed the idea from discussing the tragic water crisis happening in Haiti and they thought they could invent something to help. They were very successful by the end of the program. The students received some assistance from several professionals. However the idea was all their own, which once again proves that youth are very capable of contributing to new technologies in big ways. Young students just need support and opportunities to prove their talents because their ideas are enormously valuable and can make a large impact on the world.

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The U.S. is currently 4th in the world for innovation. However, in order to maintain and increase innovation the country must invest in the younger generation. In a study on innovators, researchers found that students from low income families were less likely to file a patent for an invention than students from high income families. They also found a lack of diversity in this area with white males as the majority. Instead of focusing on getting the most out of current innovators, as the government does now, it should turn to younger generations from diverse backgrounds to inspire new visionaries. Investing in future innovators while they are young will lead to long run economic growth in the U.S.

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Calculus is challenging, but it shouldn’t be a reason for fewer grads from STEM majors. Researchers found that a main reason students, especially women, are dropping out of STEM Majors is due to a decreased confidence and a lack of desire to take more Calculus. The students initially got into sciences or engineering most likely because they enjoyed it in high school, not because they wanted to complete difficult Math courses. They are prepared individuals and researchers found the students’ grades in Calculus are adequate, however their confidence drops after taking Calculus I and discourages the students from advancing to Calculus II. Counselors should be aware of this issue, and encourage all students not to drop out simply because of the math. There are plenty of resources available to aid with the program and Educators should help to re-build the confidence in students as well. Calculus is an essential aspect of STEM and should not be a factor preventing students from pursuing a STEM degree.

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Stem careers are related to everything. They can be impacting and impacted across the political, social, scientific, and economic industries. In this case Brexit might be the reason for less cancer research in the UK. Scientists are concerned about their jobs due to loss of funding and it has sent a shock in the cancer research community. Not only may they not have sufficient funding but it also puts the industry at risk for low numbers of students and employees looking to do cancer research in the UK. When pursuing a STEM career, there are diverse possibilities and influences within the industries to keep in mind.

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