Matthew Zaragoza

Owner, Zaragoza Graphics

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Reaching out to High School students about job in STEM fields.

A lot of high school students have no idea what engineers, physicists, or mathematicians actually do. How would you get these jobs in the minds of high school students?

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    May 5 2013: Hopefully, the incoming Next Generation Science Standards will change this fact so that more students will have exposure to careers in math, science, and engineering. Universities are the easiest way to outsource this project through a variety of different mediums: open houses, college visit days where students are shown labs, meeting with a professor, etc. My favorite method concerning a university would be to involve university students in workshops that allow students to work on engineering projects while also interacting with college students to get high school students interested in STEM.

    The current method of industrial exposure for undergraduate engineers is plant visits and shadowing engineers. I think it would be a good idea to offer plant visits to high school students as well. I grew up in northwest Ohio and had the opportunity to visit First Solar's plant near my hometown during my senior year of high school. It made me really interested in engineering and I was less scared of industrial plants. I don't think students are too young to be exposed to engineering in this form. In fact, the sooner, the better. In order to show students what engineers, physicists and mathematicians do, bring high school students to engineers, physicists and mathematicians. Let those actually employed in field showcase their work.
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      May 5 2013: I wholeheartedly agree. I did a fair amount of K-12 outreach volunteer work for my school when I was an undergraduate, and the only things that seemed to resonate with the kids in any meaningful way were live (and sometimes interactive) demonstrations of how fascinating, practical, and powerful STEM fields really are. Ten minutes in the lab was worth far more to them than an hour of talk.
  • May 4 2013: Well, one issue is that most of their jobs are really not that "glamorous" and they are hard work. I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, but also with a very real message.

    Most science based jobs are a lot of hard work and many students don't want to work that hard. They are enamored with the quick and easy way out of school to make the big bucks, which they don't understand do not exist. Well, there are few quick and easy ways to make it rich.

    Most of those jobs are also not that glamorous or exciting in appearance. When you approach kids with the reality of a scientist, which is a lot of work that is tedious in itself, it is hard to get them excited about the job. The folks who make big discoveries are few and far between.

    Compound that with the low emphasis given on science in schools and it is an uphill challenge for years to come.
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      May 4 2013: You raise an interesting and often neglected point, Everett. Many young people are already drawn to science as a potential career by the exciting aspects and the rock star-like success stories. Once they start studying the subject at university, though, they sometimes decide the reality of the preparation or even the work does not feel like the image they had coming in. and they change majors.

      It is important to help kids make informed choices by correctly represented what the preparation and work in the field involves. It's a match if they can handle the unglamorous parts of the work also.
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    May 3 2013: Matthew, Historically schools train to fill positions in Miltary and industrial complexes as the needs exist. That is still pretty much true. The latest craze on STEM is not a job related issue. The USA has fallen out of the picture in world wide comaprision educational testing. In the last PISA Exam the USA was in the bottom third of the bottom third. This was seen as a national embaressment and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan took advantage of this to implement his National Socialistic Education plan. He want to control at the federal level all texts and tests.

    The last time we were embaressed nationally was when the Russians beat us into space and Ike wanted more engineers to close the gap and overtake the USSR in that area.

    Your question about student and STEM .... each student should take a appitude test to see where talents and desires cross and then look into the fields to see what the jobs forecasts are, earning potential, and associated areas. Colleges are not interested in your future ... they are interested in your money. You want to take the five classes in "Elvis the early years" ... no problem as long as your check clears.

    The government says the medical field will be the fastest growing. Before you leap into this ... look into the Obamacare package. There will be less doctors, less hospital involvement, and more neighborhood clinics manned by technicians / maybe a nurse. Pay will be regulated by the federal government .... etc ...

    Just because someone said it does not make it true. The final decision and the consequences belong to you and you alone. Do your homework. Be responsible.

    That is the message that the student need to hear ... the decision and the responsibility is yours.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    May 4 2013: Have STEM practitioners do rap and suck blood out of each other's necks. Kids will be all over it.
  • May 4 2013: Are you saying that there are really jobs for STEM graduates? Since when?
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    May 4 2013: I've been involved in several engineering classes during my time in high school and I had the opportunity to work with engineers and architects and truly understand what the schooling and accreditation is like and what the jobs can entail. The biggest problem I think is not the push for STEM careers or even getting kids interested in different careers so much as it is the problem of kids not knowing what they are truly interested in.
  • May 4 2013: Students should not be pets of the labor market I would like them to reach their creative potential and discover new knowledge and solve are common unknowns we still have no ideas or answers to.

    You are the future.
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      May 5 2013: Idealistically, I agree. However, the labor market is a very real constraint that everyone is forced to contend with. One potential solution would be to make functional laboratories available to middle and high school aged students for the purpose of real laboratory experience, practical experimentation, and solving real problems. Younger students who are still financially supported by their parents will be able to pursue their interests without considering their economic feasibility.
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    May 3 2013: Lots of colleges have open house events to show what engineers do, for example. My local university has an annual math day for high school students as well. Also, you can invite people from these careers to school as visitors or... share their TED presentations!

    Interestingly I read an account this morning of a conference at Harvard about the humanities, specifically lamenting the fact that college students today, both male and female, lean very strongly in their choice of majors to science and business and away from humanities. A primary subject of the conference was how to counter-balance the forces pushing students in STEM directions by putting forward the value of the humanities and arts.