STEM Career Launch impresses ninth graders, teachers
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More than 100 area ninth graders visited Penn State Harrisburg recently and left with an invigorated sense of studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
The third annual STEM Career Launch, hosted by the college’s Multicultural Recruitment and Community Affairs Department, attracted students from five school districts for a comprehensive learning experience which included topical career and education sessions with Penn State Harrisburg faculty and staff and community professionals.
Data from the College Board show the number of Pennsylvania high school students taking the SAT exam who have an intended college major in a STEM discipline is not meeting workforce and future needs. “We know that opportunities exist and the STEM Career Launch is an effort to improve awareness in the ninth graders,” said Barbara Thompson, the director of the sponsoring department.
Students from Susquehanna Township, Central Dauphin East, Harrisburg, Steelton-Highspire, and Middletown Area high schools participated in this year’s launch.
Designed to expose and encourage high school students to understand course work and work requirements and to consider higher education in math and science areas, the event drew rave reviews from both students and their teachers.
“Outstanding” was the most common rating given the half-day program on evaluation sheets while students commented they enjoyed meeting students from other schools, the hands-on experiments included in the sessions, and the better understanding of STEM careers they gained.
And eager for more information, they have some suggestions for future career launches – more sessions and an expanded time frame. “Expand the day so we can visit all the sessions,” one student notes. Another said, “I wish there was more time to do all the classes.” One student simply wrote, “More classes, more classes.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the evaluations is that every student stated they wanted to learn more about STEM studies and careers.
Teachers who accompanied the students also report they were greatly impressed by the presentation. “The students were engaged and participated,” one said while another indicated “There was a dedicated sense of purpose (on the part of Penn State) in informing students of STEM opportunities.”
Representing a broad spectrum of professions, the activities included sessions on physical therapy, information systems and sciences, microorganisms in the environment, environmental forensics, math and science in law enforcement, bridge design and inspection, plastics: synthesis, characterization, and recycling, sensory science, and tissue culture and biotechnology.