It's widely believed our ability to innovate and prepare students for careers in science and technology will be key factors in keeping the U.S. competitive in the global economy. Yet, nearly three out of five American teens (59 percent) do not believe their high school is preparing them adequately for a career in technology or engineering, according to the 2008 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, an annual survey that gauges Americans' attitudes toward invention and innovation.

The disparity is more pronounced among some groups historically underrepresented in these fields. Roughly two-thirds of African-American teens (64 percent) and teen girls (67 percent) believe...

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