3. Demonstrate to students that college is attainable.
An often overlooked aspect of filling the STEM pipeline is to introduce the idea that attending college is achievable. Many students come from households in which no family member has attended college before. For these students, the idea of college can be intimidating.

Sometimes, students need to be shown that college is a realistic option for them. Teachers should keep in mind that these students may need extra guidance in understanding how to apply and pay for college—especially if their parents or siblings have never been through the process.

Here’s how you can do this
I use many resources with my high school science students to address these areas of need, but one resource in particular meets all three requirements listed above. It’s TGR EDU: Explore, a free online platform that provides valuable professional learning resources to teachers and students.

This program includes a variety of materials that help students discover who they are, what they want to be, and how to attain their goals.

Hands-on lessons: These hands-on lessons and activities explore real-world applications of STEM concepts. For instance, in one lesson, students conduct a series of chemical tests to determine which major biomolecules are found in common foods, and they use this information to investigate the nutritional content of popular fast-food items. In the course of this lesson, students learn how science plays a critical role in helping people make healthier choices. The lesson has an accompanying training video for educators that illustrates a variety of implementation options.

3 keys to filling the STEM pipeline

Project-based learning: To help teachers design their own hands-on activities, TGR EDU has a webinar that provides effective strategies for building project-based learning into the STEM curriculum with the support of industry professionals.

College access: A self-paced learning module called College Blueprint leads students through the college application and admissions process, taking them on a virtual campus tour to visit a financial aid office, an admissions office, and a student center.

My students have found these resources very helpful, especially the timeline of what they should be focusing on at each grade level as they approach graduation and prepare to enter college.

Providing engaging, hands-on lessons that link to real-world problem solving, exposing students to STEM career options (and the professionals who serve in them), and showing students that college is attainable can help more students consider STEM pathways. And even if they don’t choose a STEM-related career, they’ll still be primed for success in whatever field they pursue.

About the Author:

Rob Lamb is a chemistry teacher at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, Missouri.