What got you interested in STEM?
Posted by Melissa on September 7, 2011
Today Microsoft released the results of a survey the company commissioned titled STEM Perceptions: Student & Parent Study. The survey asked college students majoring in STEM fields and parents of K-12 students about a range of topics related to the importance of STEM education, the quality of the preparation provided by K-12 education, and the factors motivating students to choose to study STEM. The results of the survey provide interesting snapshots of student and parent perceptions on a variety of topics related to STEM education.
I was particularly interested in the questions about when students decided to study STEM and what got them interested in these fields. Fifty-seven percent of the survey respondents decided that they wanted to study STEM when in high school followed by 20% who decided in college and 13% who decided in middle/junior high school. I was under the impression that more students decided they were interested in studying STEM earlier in their educational careers.
When asked what got them interested in STEM before college, student responses exhibited a gender divide. For female students, the number one thing that got them interested in STEM was a teacher or a class. Sixty-eight percent of females said a teacher/class was influential in promoting interest as compared to 51% of males. On the other hand, for male students games or toys were the most cited source of interest in STEM. Sixty-one percent of males said games/toys got them interested in STEM as compared to 29% of females.
My own experience is somewhat consistent with the survey results. I only became interested in studying STEM during my junior year of high school; the biggest factor leading to my interest was outreach programs (as I have discussed in a previous post) supplemented by an excellent high school physics teacher. For those of you who are in STEM fields, what got you interested in STEM? When did you decide you wanted to study STEM?