“The U.S. system of science and mathematics education is performing far below par, if left unattended (this) will leave millions of young Americans unprepared to succeed in a global economy” (Next Generation Science Standards website)

Source: Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce

Creating and preparing a STEM workforce is essential for our nation’s economic growth.  Research shows that achievement gaps in the area of Science and Mathematics limit our students from competing for STEM-related jobs. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 45 % of America’s good jobs in the next few years will require a certificate or Associate’s Degree earned at a technical or community college. Most jobs will be in STEM areas. Another concern is that a majority of our college graduates do not have the right skill set for the high paying STEM jobs in the global marketplace. This means that the 8 million projected STEM job openings due to growth and net replacement in 2018 will be filled by talent found elsewhere [Source: Occupational Employment Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, May 2011]

Are we preparing our students for the 21st Century?

  •  78% of high school students require remedial reading and math courses (ACT Readiness Benchmarks)
  • Only 40 % of college STEM majors obtain a STEM degree (National Academies Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm)

Leaving No Child Behind:  

After many decades of blaming teachers and fostering negative learning environments by excessive testing and punitive policies for educators, it is time to consider policies which foster positive learning environments for our students.To leave no child behind, we need all teachers to be STEM literate so they can nurture the natural curiosity of students and inspire them to pursue careers in science and technology. A core mission of Why Science is to get more students to participate science fairs, as this is an effective way to inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

Creating a science fair project is an excellent example of what education experts call active learning or inquiry (also “hands-on & minds-on” learning). It is a very effective instructional method; indeed, it is recommended as a cornerstone of successful science teaching. Yet, according to the National Research Council, active learning is not employed often enough in the classroom and its absence is seen as one of the key factors behind kids losing interest in science and not performing to their potential.

Students who participate in science fairs increase their understanding of science and problem solving by:

  • strengthening critical thinking, reasoning and analytical skills.
  • building mathematical skills for analysis and effective communication of information.
  • developing skills for communicating science and other information to different audiences.

At the fair, students are encouraged to communicate their findings and ideas in a clear, concise and compelling manner to their friends and science fair judges.  COMMUNICATION is a fundamental 21st Century skill required for leadership. Thus participation in science fairs gives our youth opportunities to develop critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills that will help them excel in any discipline.

This year, eight students from James Hillhouse High School will be participating in the New Haven Science Fair on May 14-16. Projects range from monitoring native animal species, plans to repopulate native grasses & Bluebirds in the area, and how to wage battle against the invasive Japanese Knotweed.

We are very happy that the Science Fair Ready To TeachTM module created for Hillhouse was able to support the teacher and students as they prepared the science fair projects.[Click to find how it helps] Join us in celebrating the Hillhouse High School students who are participating in the 2013 New Haven Science Fair. Their science fair projects and continuing classroom achievement are to be commended. They are making a difference, not just in their school, but in their community as well. Why Science would like to congratulate the New Haven Science Fair 2012 winners and we extend best wishes to all 2013 participants.  To volunteer, mentor and/or serve as a judge visit www.nhsciencefair.org!

Sources Cited:

  1. Next Generation Science Standards http://www.nextgenscience.org/
  2. National Center for Education Statistics http://nces.ed.gov/
  3. Occupational Employment Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, May 2011 http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2011/05/art1full.pdf

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