The University of South Carolina is taking a unique approach at encouraging students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly nicknamed “STEM.”
USC School of Medicine professor Adam Hartstone-Rose told South Carolina Radio Network a new $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant attempts to recruit more student into the field by utilizing “informal learning” sites. “These informal science learning centers are places like zoos and museums,” he said.
Hartsone-Rose said the school is trying a variety of methods at the informal sites. “We are studying three different aims to figure out how those types of programs might lead towards encouraging these teenagers to eventually become STEM practitioners.”
He said they are working with the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens and EdVenture Children’s Museum, both in the Columbia area. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and three sites in England are also part of the program.
Hartstone-Rose, College of Education professors Kelly Lynn Mulvey and Matt Irvin as well as partners at each site will spend the next five years examining the youth engagement programs to see if the those who serve as youth educators later go on to study STEM majors in college or pursue STEM careers.
This project is funded through Science Learning+, an international partnership between the National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust with additional support from the Economic and Social Research Council in the United Kingdom.