The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to Citizen Schools to support our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) apprenticeships, specifically to increase computing apprenticeships nationwide. This prestigious grant will help us significantly increase the number of students who have the opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals and graduate students from information technology and other scientific fields on projects ranging from computer game design to robotics to web design. The Edgerton Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has conducted research indicating that 85% of middle school children are interested in STEM, but that two-thirds of them believe they will not pursue careers in STEM either because they don’t know any STEM professionals or they don’t know what those professionals really do. At Citizen Schools, we know that early exposure to STEM careers, professionals and project-based learning opportunities is a great way to increase interest in the STEM field.
With assistance from supporters like the National Science Foundation, we’ll continue to connect students with volunteers who can speak credibly to the students, telling them about career opportunities in computing and related fields, as well as the academic preparation required to pursue them.