“We believe that middle schoolers make a critical decision as to whether they will stay with or step away from science and math courses in high school,” says Paula Golden, Executive Director of the Broadcom Foundation.
“We have never placed, and I’ve been at this school for 26 years,” SSP Fellow Randa Flinn says of her school’s participation in science fairs. However, Northeast High School in Oakland Park Florida, where more than half of the students are black or Hispanic and 52 percent are economically disadvantaged, had a very different story to tell in 2011. “This year we had six of our kids place,” Randa says. “I was astounded.”
Shiv Gaglani (Intel ISEF 2004, 2005, 2006) wished that, before he had participated the first time, he had been able to speak with someone who had lived through the Intel ISEF experience. That conversation may have helped him take even fuller advantage of all of the opportunities available to him and his fellow young scientists.
According to a recent study by Intel, 51 percent of teens who are not confident in the United States’ math and science abilities believe this is because Americans do not work hard enough. Only a third of teens surveyed blamed lack of funding or school emphasis for poor math and science abilities in the United States, which may suggest they need to be challenged to work harder in the classroom. Additionally, while 85 percent are confident in their own math and science abilities, 90 percent chose a country other than the U.S. when deciding which country was the best at math and science.
By Caitlin Jennings, Communications Coordinator, Society for Science & the Public
Rajiv Vinnakota (ISEF International Science and Engineering Fair 1989), co-founder and managing director of the SEED Foundation, which partners with urban communities to provide innovative educational opportunities that prepare underserved students for success in college and beyond, is, in actuality, a scientist. He was fascinated with science in high school and studied molecular biology at Princeton.