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⇒A STEM System�

Choke Point: Implications of Student Perspectives in the Personnel Flow in the STEM System The high school years present a critical chokepoint for STEM (see Figure 4-1 on the next page). Students who are not already enthusiastic about STEM and do not get activated during these years may lack motivation and basic skills needed to pursue careers in STEM fields successfully at any future time. A Personal Observation of Modeler: Students at elementary school age are enthusiastic about learning about STEM subjects and often take the initiative for exploration. Some lose that enthusiasm as they progressively encounter increasing teacher expectations that they observe, record, and analyze or make connections among concepts. Some lose interest before middle school; many more see STEM negatively during middle school. Some amazingly resilient students maintain their passion for STEM at a high level throughout their maturation. Some of these latter students maintain their enthusiasm for STEM even when experiencing discouragement from teachers and/or inadequate educational resources. Those students who do not have a positive view of STEM before leaving high school will lack both a base on which to build STEM careers and skills for interacting with STEM situations throughout their lives. Addressing the issues causing the chokepoint successfully is important both to employers and to the citizenry of the nation.

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⇒A STEM System⇐

Modeler’s Perception of Student Enthusiasm Levels for STEM High Low Majority of students High Low Large cadre of students High Low

Most “strong” STEM students

Choke Point Yellow denotes some vocational students

Figure 4-1 (also Figure 6.5)

© Kenneth Chapman 2018

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⇒A STEM System⇐

By their high school years, some students have decided that studying STEM is great fun as well as required. Other students decide STEM demands too much work and applied mathematics and are satisfied to get a grade that may not penalize them much. Those who continue to enjoy STEM enter post-secondary programs well-prepared and looking for more challenges as STEM majors. Even if forced to terminate their education, they likely will enter STEM employment at some level. Encountering STEM specialists (STEM Catalysts) through ⇒A STEM System⇐, some students stumbling through STEM in high school will awaken to find STEM more interesting than they previously thought and learn of the potential for varied careers. Many of these may transition successfully into STEM fields. Many students in traditional programs find they must satisfy some STEM requirements to graduate from high school and struggle to meet minimal requirements. They forever remain STEM-averse.