Wilkes, John M.
North High School
This project is a continuation of a pilot project started last year to create a Future Scientist and Engineers Club at North High School. Our goal was to encourage students to take an interest in science and technology and consider this as a career option. It fell to us to start the actual club as the prior team focused on planning and getting the necessary permissions as well as recruiting an advisor on the HS faculty. The Club idea was inspired by the results of an aspirations survey of Worcester high school juniors -- especially when they are compared to data collected from 8th graders in the same city. Both gender imbalance and the decline of the number of students interested in technical subjects and careers by 11th grade were of concern. It is of particular concern to the sponsor (Advisory Committee on the Status of Women) to support female students with technical interests since women are underrepresented in the technical fields. The North High Club project took place in a high school with a special program devoted to health careers. A similar program devoted to engineering careers was in another high school in another part of the city. The project was declared a success by the student participants, who responded to a survey, and the high school faculty advisors. We also consider it a success, but more for the potential it revealed and the promising start made than what was actually achieved this year. The need for technically oriented sophomores to get some kind of help as they plan their junior year's schedules and consider the possibility of college, especially a technical college, is pressing. The impact that a simple one day field trip to WPI had, just to look around and ask questions, was astounding. A Club like this could become a major in-school resource for students who want to try on the idea of a technical career for size, without making any serious commitment. It also countered prevailing stereotypes about engineers fairly well and disproportionately attracted attention from females. Role models our age seem to have considerable credibility with this age group and our encouragement and willingness to answer questions, some of which were very basic, seemed to matter a great deal.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Interactive Qualifying Project
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Social Science and Policy Studies