As a child, I grew up thinking that I had to become a doctor, lawyer, athlete or scientist. Little did I know there were many opportunities available to me, especially in the sciences. The scientific field has expanded extensively over the past decade. Being a scientist no longer involves simply hovering over a microscope and lab bench anymore. A STEM education provides students with a plethora of skills suited to new developing career opportunities available in STEM fields. It is my belief that continued funding of STEM education is necessary to encourage the participation of students in careers in the STEM field.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the Newton Public School system for all my life. Newton Public Schools are a very strong advocate of STEM education. Growing up in the Newton Public School system has provided me with many opportunities to discover an interest in the sciences.
I remember in elementary school, the highlight of my school year was always our annual school-sponsored trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. One year, I even slept over at the Museum of Science on a Newton sponsored student engagement trip. I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever, and just wanting to live in a science museum for all of my life.
In middle school, the Science Club for Girls visited and encouraged all the girls to pursue a career in the sciences. I thought all the women running it were the most powerful and gung-ho women ever and I wanted to grow up to be just like them, pursuing a career in a mostly men dominated field.
In high school, my AP Biology class went to visit the Broad Institute and actually got to use their labs to learn how to run gels and do DNA analysis. We also spoke to other researchers that worked there and learned how they got into the field. I remember being fascinated by the research they were doing. The research they were doing sounded unreal, almost like science fiction.
Every experience provided to me by my school system has definitely shaped and influenced who I have become as a student and what I want to do with my career. Without being exposed to those experiences, I would have never discovered my love for the sciences and my desire to spread science education to those unfortunate enough to not have been provided with the opportunities that I was as a student.
As I mentioned before, it is my belief that STEM education continues to be supported and pursued by the education system. Although I believe that the purpose of STEM Education should not be to convince students to pursue a career in the STEM field but rather to provide students with the opportunity to discover for themselves what career path they want to pursue. Being provided opportunities to be exposed to the STEM field is essential to developing a personal interest in the field. STEM Education should continue to be supported by the government but in the interest of fostering an independent interest in the sciences.
I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst pursuing a Biology/Psychology Major with an Education Minor.
Written by: Daryl Choa