A friend of mine from high school recently attended a presentation at his daughter's school about its STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum. He noted that he was amazed by the confidence and poise of the students there as they talked about computers, robotics, and engineering in general.
I was pleased to hear this news and wanted to know more. Turns out his daughter attends the Columbus School for Girls (CSG), which is based in Columbus, Ohio. The school places a strong emphasis on academic excellence, leadership development, and global citizenship. The school also touts 100% of the graduates are accepted into and attend four-year colleges and universities across the country.
CSG is a private school, and presumably parents are well-equipped to financially and emotionally encourage advanced degrees. But higher education isn't just an upper-crust luxury. Indeed, I put myself through school via student loans. But I did so because at the time it was instilled in us that higher education was important. Too bad this isn't the case any longer. According to a report from New York-based non-profit College Board, the United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.
But enough of the bad news – let's focus on the positive. Specifically the fact that CSG, and surely many other schools like it, is encouraging kids to study and like science and engineering.
To be sure, for the past nine years, high school students from CSG have teamed up with engineering students from The Ohio State University to design and build a competition robot. They spend their winter evenings and weekends working toward the final goal of competing in the FIRST Robotics competition, one that includes 44 regional events and one national event, involving over 1,800 other high-school teams. The FIRST program brings together the nation’s leading companies and universities in a united effort to introduce young minds to the wonders of science, technology and engineering.
A Chemical Processing reader mentioned FIRST earlier this year (FIRST Robotics Engages Kids In Science And Technology) and Editor Mark Rosenzweig often dedicates his column to inspiring children to enter a career in engineering (see We Need Another A.C. Gilbert and Convince A Child to Explore Engineering). So it is refreshing to hear of schools taking the lead and helping children do the same.
And in case you are wondering if girls and engineering are a good mix, of the 12 graduating members of this year's robotics team, eight girls plan on studying engineering in college. Hooray!
Senior Digital Editor