Planes, a blade of grass, and carbon dioxide all have one thing in common. They all relate to the subject of science. Many youths associate the topic with lab reports and data tables, not knowing how extensive the field is or how fortunate they are to have access to a science lab. While popular figures such as Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson provide an engaging and accessible platform for science education, there are still many target populations that lack the resources or motivation to progress.
In my experience working with young children in the field of science, I have noticed an immeasurable amount of curiosity in most of them. Their interest only needs to be properly cultivated and nurtured so that they may one day be the next engineer or environmental scientist. According to Successful STEM Education, 2009 showed a 27 percent difference in science and math achievement between average income and low income students. Only 44 percent of low income students were able to do “basic” or better as a high school senior taking a STEM course. This shows a need for the improvement in the quality of how children are being exposed to science. By increasing awareness to such gaps in our communities, one can more prominently support a change in our education system. What makes it difficult as well is that there are often unqualified teachers in high poverty schools as opposed to low poverty schools with strictly science focused teachers. Fortunately resources such as STEMfinity offer opportunities for grants that aim to increase the sustainability in low income communities especially in areas of education.
Though it will take time to mend an imperfect system, we can start in our own communities by first being aware of its needs. By keeping up with local propositions or policies, it is possible to call your lawmakers or politicians to help lobby and influence their decisions. Another simple opportunity is to be a tutor for those in poorer communities, or to work at places like Hiller Aviation Museum that allow volunteers to help run their summer science camp. If we are willing to be involved, then change may come sooner than later.