Why So Many Young People Hate STEM Courses

Wed, 28 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Science

Take it from someone who almost gave up on her dream of being a scientist

Seeing all this, you'd think that STEM would be the perfect fit for me, right? For a long time, I thought so too.

My initial impressions of the field were that it would satisfy my unrelenting desire to know why.

Though I wasn't sure exactly what it was I wanted to pursue in STEM yet, I hoped that these courses would help me find out.

Much to my disappointment, the reality of studying these "Hard sciences" is far removed from the way it is shown in the media-unlike anything I'd seen in watching all those episodes of How It's Made.

How motivating is it to remember a bunch of numbers when you don't really know why it even matters to use them? And trust me when I say I completely empathize! It is hard.

This is why I nearly give up on pursuing STEM. I clearly remember a moment in AP chemistry, reviewing the basics of elemental composition, when I asked myself, Why do I even need to know this, what is the point of it all? I was drumming my mechanical pencil on the table for five minutes straight, stumped on this one problem, and barely had the stamina to continue.

Shortly, one of my peers unmuted and said "Wow, you're really good at this!" But at the time, I didn't think it was so much my skill, as much as how I loved that neuroscience had reignited my passion for discovering the why.

What makes people happy, biologically, what is really going on? What factors in our brains are conspiring to create a certain thought, reaction or emotion? But even more than these provocative questions was the idea that there is still so much we don't know about the brain-meaning just that much more for me to discover!

If you really want to know why more young people aren't entering STEM, I hope you'll remember this story.

While I may not have a concrete answer, I do have my experiences, and, knowing why-where your learning is going to take you-is one powerful feeling.