Teens Feelings about STEM – New Data from Lemelson-MIT


The 2010 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, an annual survey that gauges American teens perceptions about invention and innovation, reveals some telling information about their feelings towards STEM subjects (science, technology, education and math). 

Of the teens surveyed for this year’s report: 

–  77 percent showed  interest in pursuing a STEM career

 – 85 percent wish they knew more about STEM in order to create or invent something 

  – 66 percent identified field trips and other activities outside of the classroom as the best way they can learn about STEM subjects

– 75 percent chose hands-on individual projects and hands-on group projects as the types of classroom-based educational methods they enjoy most

– 43 percent said that role models in STEM fields would increase their interest in learning about these areas

One program at The Center for Excellence in Math and Science that incorporates several of the needs identified in the Lemelson-MIT survey is the STEM Mentor Program.  Our STEM Mentor Program is a collaborative initiative with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester (BBBS) to increase interest, excitement, and exposure to informal STEM education and professionals.

 Mentors (or “Bigs”) in the program all have a background, career, or interest in the STEM fields.  The Bigs share their STEM excitement with Littles –  who have been identified by BBBS as having an interest in STEM subjects. 


“Littles” from the STEM Mentor Program have a hands-on STEM experience with a STEM professional from the Seneca Park Zoo.


The STEM Mentor Program facilitates field trips and hands on activities for the Big/Little pairs – things identified as important to teens in the Lemelson-MIT survey. 

The program also gives the Littles something the Lemelson-MIT survey found lacking on a national level – exposure to adults in the STEM fields.  Just 51% of teens surveyed said they knew someone who worked in a STEM profession.  

 Another mentor program aimed at increasing hands-on STEM learning and direct access to STEM professionals is Lemelson-MIT’s InvenTeams High School Invention Grants.

 InvenTeams is a national program.  Teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. such as a temperature-sensitive color-changing roof to combat global warming.

 For more information about Lemelson-MIT’s InvenTeams High School Invention Grants visit: http://web.mit.edu/inventeams/index.html

 For more information about the STEM Mentor Program email Caurie Putnam, program coordinator, at  cputnam3@zimbra.naz.edu

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