U.S. stu­dents not show­ing enough in­ter­est in science, tech­nol­ogy

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Kara Row­land and Bryce Baschuk

The United States may be the world’s big­gest con­sumer of tech­nol­ogy, but when it comes to churn­ing out sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers, Amer­i­can schools and fam­i­lies are not gen­er­at­ing enough in­ter­est, ed­u­ca­tors say.

“We are be­hind the eight ball right now be­cause other na­tions are com­pet­i­tive and push­ing hard,” said JoAnn DiGen­naro, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion, a McLean non­profit that pro­motes science and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion.

Why aren’t Amer­i­can stu­dents pur­su­ing de­grees in science and tech­nol­ogy?

“Science­an­dengi­neer­ing­classes aren’t pushed when you’re young,” said Rox­ana Yaghoubzadeh, a 21year-old Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity (GWU) se­nior ma­jor­ing in in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

Re­search shows that stu­dents of­ten de­cide their ca­reer paths long be­fore they reach col­lege, ac­cord­ing to Robert H. Tai, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia Curry School of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“There’s a strong con­nec­tion be­tween chil­dren’s vi­sions of what they see them­selves do­ing as adults and what they ac­tu­ally end up pur­su­ing when they be­come adults,” ex­plained Mr. Tai, who ear­lier this year com­pleted a study based on in­ter­views with eighth-grade stu­dents about what job they would like to do when they get older.

Eighth-graders who said they wanted to have a science-re­lated job were two to three times more likely to earn de­grees in science.

“You look at what’s go­ing on and in a sense, it’s not so much why col­lege stu­dents are choos­ing their ma­jors; it is re­ally a ques­tion of how early are peo­ple start­ing to make th­ese de­ci­sions about their lives and what it is they’re in­ter­ested in do­ing,” Mr. Tai said.

Mara Geltzeiler, a 21-year-old in­ter­na­tional busi­ness ma­jor from New Jer­sey, be­moaned the time it takes to ob­tain a science de­gree.

“For ca­reers in medicine and the sci­ences, there’s such a long path and all the ed­u­ca­tion doesn’t pay off in the end,” said the GWU se­nior.

Mr. Tai, a for­mer high school physics teacher, said par­ents and teach­ers must give chil­dren a bet­ter idea of what sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers ac­tu­ally do for a liv­ing.

More­over, fewer chil­dren have fam­ily mem­bers work­ing in science or en­gi­neer­ing to ex­plain it to them, noted Ms. DiGen­naro of the Cen­ter for Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion.

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