Students Pursue STEM if Introduced to Topics Early

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Studies report that students are more likely to pursue STEM majors at universities and colleges if introduced to those topics in grade school. In addition, exposing students to STEM at a young age may capture their imagination and help retain them in STEM jobs in their early career stages (LittleBits, 2018).

Attracting students into STEM fields is best started in elementary and middle school, prioritizing grades 4-8. In fact, longitudinal data sets showed that students who expressed interest in science-related fields in 8th grade were significantly more likely to earn STEM degrees (Maltese & Tai, 2010).

According to the Department of Education, “early exposure to STEM has positive impacts across the entire spectrum of learning.” For example, early math knowledge not only predicts later math success, it also predicts later reading achievement. (National Research Council, 2012).

Research demonstrates out-of-school programs are highly effective for STEM learning and engagement early and often is crucial to sparking and sustaining youth STEM career interest (Allen, Chang, Waggenspack, Fukuda, Little, Noam, 2019).

Adam V. Maltese Robert H. Tai (2010) Eyeballs in the Fridge: Sources of early interest in science, International Journal of Science Education, 32:5, 669-685, DOI: 10.1080/09500690902792385

Allen, P. J., Chang, R., Gorrall, B. K., Waggenspack, L., Fukuda, E., Little, T. D., & Noam, G. G. (2019). From quality to outcomes: A national study of afterschool STEM programming. International Journal of STEM Education, 6(1), 1-21.

LittleBits (2018). Early Exposure to STEM and its Impact on the Future of Work.

National Research Council (NRC) (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.


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