(Editor’s note: We’re pleased to have Max Cho, CRA’s Tisdale Fellow, working at CRA World HQ this summer. Max is a student at Yale with a keen interest in the intersection of technology and policy and will be posting frequently on the blog!)
This morning I attended the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education.
One of the hearing’s themes was how to motivate students to study science. Motivation’s a tricky business, especially for young students: the payoffs are distant, and high-level thinking tasks have a negative correlation between payoff and effective learning. For whatever reason, engineering, while perceived as a worthwhile and high paying profession, isn’t motivating enough students to pursue it to meet industry demand.
At a subsequent briefing on university research and federal grants, one of the speakers mentioned that most scientists said the most important factor that inspired them to pursue research was excellent undergraduate research opportunities. Not the promise of fame or fortune, but of passion and opportunity. While this kind of anecdotal evidence is exactly that, it’s worth keeping in mind how federal grant monies can inspire young people: not by dangling a benjamin in front of their nose, but with the excitement of discovery.