At what age do most kids become interested in STEM?

Oct 14, 2014
Originally published on October 13, 2014 7:12 pm

When do students fall in love with science and technology? Turns out, it’s at a pretty young age.

"Most people who turn out to be scientists or engineers or mathematicians, originally got interested in elementary school; somewhere between grades K through 6," said Dr. Philip Sadler.

Sadler studies students’ interests in the field known as STEM - science, technology, engineering and math – for his work at Harvard University.

He says then in high school, students find their specific passion, be it physics or chemistry, through he says that often changes in college; and some kids drop out of the field.

"There are lots of kids who do well in science and math in middle school, but start off high school not thinking they’re going to be in STEM," he said. "That can be turned around in high school, particularly in schools offer advanced coursework."

That would be Advanced Placement or other higher achievement courses.

Boys typically get interested in science and math earlier than girls, Sadler said, "but they all have an interest before they hit high school, pretty much."

Interestingly, Sadler found students who want to go into science field, do better in college coursework if they take an extra math class in high school, instead of more advanced science work.

Sadler gave a presentation recently to a conference of STEM teachers in Syracuse. Having a good teacher, Sadler pointed out, is a major factor in getting kids hooked.

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