The massive impact of the development of science and technology have tremendously shaped the modern world. As decades passed by, innovators had continuously contributed to the advancement of machinery. Due to this, students around the world adapted to these changes and attempted to incorporate these new knowledge in their system. However, are there enough STEM opportunities for these bright savants to fully engage themselves in their world of scientific inquiry and exploration?

Ria Sodhir, a sophomore in the Brearley School at New York, fell in love with STEM in 8th grade, the first year she took chemistry. Other than being taught by a proficient teacher, she learned a variety of topics ranging from the periodic table, to minerals and even volcanoes.

According to Sodhir, her school supplies everything they need ranging from goggles to a lab notebook. Besides the tuition, the Brearley School receives generous donations from parents and alumni.

In the image is a photo of an electronic balance scale at Brearley School. Photo Courtesy of Ria Sodhi.

Living in the Big Apple, there are many opportunities to pursue science. In the summer, there are numerous universities that offer science programs ranging from engineering to learning about human anatomy. There are also certain programs designed specifically to boost the number of girls involved in STEM.

“Since science and technology is advancing so much these days, the curriculum will always lag a little behind. Although my school holds a B-STEM weekend every year in which they bring in scientists to come to talk and do experiment with us students, I feel like it will never be enough.”

Brearley definitely has done all in its capabilities to introduce girls to the STEM world, but with how fast our world is evolving it will always we will always be five steps behind, according to Sodhir.

Brearley School definitely has done all in its capabilities to introduce girls to the STEM world, but with how fast our world is evolving it will always we will always be five steps behind, according to Sodhi. Photo Courtesy of Ria Sodhi.

“When we enter college, I believe we will have a good sense of how STEM works and what it is, but we will need to continue with this learning for the rest of our lives.”

Sodhir is unsure of how a successful program would look like, but she thinks that schools should focus some time to talk to their students and to keep them updated on the STEM aspects of the world.

 “Maybe they should give out articles, hold discussions, field trips to scientific museums and even bring in people in the STEM world to talk about what they do, and how that makes an impact.

Hector Velazquez, a senior in California Connections Academy, believes that an engineering design process drives student thinking and decision-making while working on real world challenges.

“When students are allowed to engage with real world consequences and impacts, they better understand a situation and can sympathize with it more.”

Hector Velazquez, a senior in California Connections Academy. Photo Courtesy of Ron Rocky Coloma.

According to Velazquez, during his STEM lessons, the elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are integrated and applied to solve real world problems

“We do a lot of projects that seek to combine volunteering and our classwork so that we can both learn what we’re being taught and apply that to efforts around our communities.”

In a few of Velazquez’s STEM classes, teachers will allow them to choose a midterm and final project that have them find a need within their community and work to solve it using the concepts they’ve learned.

 “This pushes students to do more work and engage further with the smaller details and with the hands-on investigation.”

AP Chemistry class of Father Duenas Memorial School performs an experiment. Photo Courtesy of Ron Rocky Coloma.

Projects in Velazquez’s STEM classes helped him spark an interest in his mind due to the fact that he could use the principles that he had learned and fix things within the world around him.

 “I remember one specific engineering class I took where I had to design an improved casing for a zippo lighter. The process allowed me to come up with a design that actually solved problems I had for months. The thought that I could change and innovate the world warmed me to all areas of STEM.”

Even though Velazquez attend a public school which provides a scarce amount of lab resources, he was still able to accomplish numerous experiments.

“So far, I’ve done everything from oxidation labs to gravity simulation labs, but my favorite was a harmonics lab where we manually adjusted cylinders in water to amplify sound based on the distance to water.

In California, the  STEM programs are pretty abundant, and they range from school clubs to state wide competitions to summer programs at elite universities. The common ones you’ll see however are sponsored through brick and mortar high schools that offer STEM research opportunities.

A successful STEM program is a program that either cultivates or harnesses the natural interest in STEM that a student can have. In Velazquez’s experience, the best ones are those that allow you to feel better about your abilities as a person and as a student. If a class can show you that you can solve and see the principles you’re being taught, then the students are definitely adapting to the STEM program, leading to a successful future.

Photo: Ousa Chea via Unsplash

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