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STEM-Centric Career Assessments

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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Will we use this in real life? Children always seem to ask this question when they are learning math. The answer is yes, math is everywhere. From counting money to budgeting and even taxes, math is in everyday life and usually has to do with personal finance. Geometry to Trigonometry might not be something everyone uses in their career, but everyone needs to file taxes. Although it is not challenging, children need to learn it early because math is relevant in real life. But when is it a good time to start teaching kids? – The sooner the better. This article breaks down when and how to discuss the different aspects of money. It starts from the simple exchange of goods, and then moves into the more difficult budgeting and taxes, all skills that are valuable for kids to learn. Teaching and guiding your child along the way will do wonders for how they approach money which is beneficial for their future.

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Students today, having grown up with technology, already have the basic computer skills that used to be taught in school. The next step is to introduce coding; however, how it is introduced is what matters. Student use apps in their daily life and are familiar with a range of technologies, but coding is a different ball game, so must be taught differently. Kelly Baur asks, “how do you build a successful coding culture, where students have a programmer’s, rather than an app-user’s mindset?” It is important to keep in mind and explain to students how coding is in the real world, so students know they are learning a valuable skill. In the article it is recommended to divide students based on characteristics such as math scores and activity preferences to ensure the students working together are at the same level. More »

Educators! Listening to music about science is a fun and interesting way to get students engaged. Research has proven music to be very influential and can affect the listener deeply. Showing younger learners an artist they may recognize is a great way to build connections with STEM. Just like the “Fifty Nifty United States” song that we all learned growing up, catchy science songs can stick with us for life. There are over 100 videos on this site initiated by Kirk Englehardt, for educators to inspire STEM learning in the classroom.

Check out the full list of songs here.

The low number of female professors in STEM is not due to lack of female graduates. A study by the U.S. National Research Council found “more women than men are earning doctorates—yet women comprised 36 percent of assistant professors and only 27 percent of tenure candidates.” The problem is unwelcoming workplace conditions. For example female professors are looked down upon if they leave the office to pick up their children, even if they work from home the rest of the evening. The assumed motherly role females sometimes naturally have, make them less respected by males in the workplace. This type of discrimination has to end and a transformation of the work environment that accepts female professors is the way to increase them in the profession. More »