Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
Research shows that when it comes to predicting future career decisions, early interest in science is more important than test scores. The U.S. Department of Labor is projecting that jobs requiring training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will increase by 51 percent between 1998 and 2008 - four times faster than overall job growth. However, growing emphasis on standardized testing has resulted in less school time devoted to science.
Children need time to explore their own ideas about science and technology. Many children view science and technology topics as something that only happens in a classroom and may not understand that science describes the world around them. Gender and ethnic differences in the science workplace persist, not because of academic performance, but because fewer girls and children of color are exposed to science as an engaging career option.
“After-school programs are a perfect place to let young people explore science and technology. There is often more flexible time and opportunity to work in groups. Adults in charge can let kids ‘play’ with science in the same way they play sports or explore the arts. High-quality after-school experiences are fun and engaging, and they spark an interest that translates into classroom success and career options,” said Jason Freeman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Science After School, a national network based in Berkeley, California.