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Pre-college science programs lead to more science majors

Students who participate in pre-college programs that focus on science more likely to pursue education, careers in STEM

Date:
July 15, 2015
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
High school students who take part in pre-college programs that focus on science are much more likely to pursue higher education and, eventually, careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine -- the STEM disciplines -- a new study suggests.
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An MSU study finds that students who take part in pre-college programs that focus on science are more likely to pursue a career path in that field. These students are participating in an MSU program called the Physics of Atomic Nuclei, which is designed to get high school students and science teachers excited about science.
Credit: Zachary Constan

High school students who take part in pre-college programs that focus on science are much more likely to pursue higher education and, eventually, careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine -- the STEM disciplines.

In a paper published in the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Michigan State University researchers from the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics and the College of Education used an MSU program as a case study for why these programs are key to training tomorrow's generation of scientists.

The joint NSCL/JINA program, the Physics of Atomic Nuclei, is for both high school students and science teachers and designed to get them excited about science and, in particular, nuclear astrophysics.

In assessment questionnaires given to participants, a vast majority said the PAN program strongly affected how they view science and convinced the students they may want to pursue a career in that field.

"PAN is just one example of how outreach programs can specifically respond to the call to strengthen the pipeline of talent into STEM by helping students visualize, take realistic actions and create strategic plans to pursue a career in physics and STEM," said Zachary Constan, outreach coordinator for the NSCL and co-author of the paper.

In fact, in a survey sent to students who participated in the program, 100 percent of the respondents said they planned to attend or were attending a four-year college, with nearly 90 percent of them majoring in STEM.

Constan said that while it's true most of the PAN students were already predisposed to science, the study showed that their participation helped them to further develop their science interests and take the next steps toward a career path.

Constan said one of the benefits of majoring in physics or one of the STEM disciplines is that the student learns many other skills -- problem solving, communication, working as part of a team -- that are applicable in areas such as medicine, law and business.

"With a physics background, for example, you can have more choices, which can lead to greater satisfaction," he said. "A person can find their niche, the thing that really inspires them."

The other benefit of this paper is it gives other similar programs a blueprint to assess themselves. Constan said most programs are run by scientists, people who are good at the science but need some help evaluating what they do.

"This is a good primer for other similar projects to assess how they are doing by initiating interdisciplinary university collaborations," he said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zachary Constan, Justina Judy Spicer. Maximizing Future Potential in Physics and STEM: Evaluating a Summer Program Through a Partnership Between Science Outreach and Education Research. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, July 2015

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Pre-college science programs lead to more science majors: Students who participate in pre-college programs that focus on science more likely to pursue education, careers in STEM." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150715155432.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2015, July 15). Pre-college science programs lead to more science majors: Students who participate in pre-college programs that focus on science more likely to pursue education, careers in STEM. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150715155432.htm
Michigan State University. "Pre-college science programs lead to more science majors: Students who participate in pre-college programs that focus on science more likely to pursue education, careers in STEM." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150715155432.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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