Students for Science empowers high school students to engage with science and advocate for science implementation in the public and private sectors.
Knowledge of science is a cornerstone to a successful life after high school. According to data from the Morehouse Center for Scientific Literacy, the majority of high school students pursuing a STEM major in college do not graduate with a STEM major. This poor retention rate is not because college courses are too difficult. It is not because high school students are not “gifted” enough to succeed. It is because many high schools do not provide their students with adequate opportunities for independent STEM immersion.
Like building fluency in any language, building fluency in STEM requires hands-on practice in real-world situations. Some high schools have attempted to address this issue by offering Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses where high school students can preview of the rigor of the college classroom. Unfortunately, many high schools lack the resources to offer these classes to their students. Effective science outreach for all high school students will requires quality out-of-school immersion opportunities, where students -- not teachers -- take ownership of their learning.
Furthermore, the majority of science outreach efforts target elementary and middle school students with the goal of sparking interest. Although interest is a necessary building block, interest alone cannot sustain a scientific career. The primary obstacles that remove college students from the U.S.’ science pipeline, such as poor grades and disenfranchisement, are not resolved through interest alone. Instead, once interest has been established, it is vital that high school students develop the requisite skill set through independent practice in real-world situations. By providing high school students with a leadership role in their informal STEM education before they enter the highly competitive college environment, the club will reinforce a positive understanding of failure and pre-empt self-doubt.
Through our club, we want to teach teens to advocate for themselves on STEM issues. The club framework uses an innovative approach that validates the long-term benefits of STEM fluency, benefits that extend beyond the college classroom and into the community, voting booth, and beyond. By increasing awareness of the connections between science and society and science policy, we can create a generation of science enthusiasts and advocates to benefit our world for generations to come. Our guiding objective is to equip young people with the experiences to develop self-efficacy in situations where their supportive high school environment is not present, such as the professional and college world.