To encourage the growth of women in STEM careers, a group of girls in the eighth grade were invited to learn about career opportunities in science and engineering during the annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Argonne National Lab. | Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.
As the President mentioned in his State of the Union address this week, we must prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in the new economy -- especially skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). By supporting education and job training, we can strengthen the work force and ensure that Americans who are willing to work hard can access the ladders of opportunity into the middle class. The Energy Department and its 17 National Labs are tackling this challenge head on in communities across the country. As a Department based in science and technology for all of our energy, environment, science and national security missions, a STEM-educated workforce is essential for our continuing success in serving the nation.
One way the National Labs are preparing the next generation of STEM professionals is through educational opportunities and training programs. Here are just a few examples:
- Every summer, 25 high school students convene at Brookhaven National Lab for the STEM-Prep Summer Institute, a four-week, hands-on program aimed at increasing participation in the sciences by under-represented minorities.
- Argonne National Lab holds Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, an event that gives young female students a unique opportunity to discover engineering careers alongside world-class scientists and engineers.
- At Berkeley Lab's Nano-High, Bay Area high school students and teachers gather one Saturday every month to hear about the cutting-edge scientific issues of the day from internationally recognized experts.
- And through the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program, college students are able gain hands-on experience working alongside some of the top experts in STEM fields at one of 16 participating National Labs.
But, to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers, we must also support their teachers. Through professional development programs and workshops, the National Labs are helping teachers bring real world experience and challenging exercises to classrooms across America.
- Princeton Plasma Physics Lab's Plasma Camp is a one-week intensive workshop that allows high school and advanced middle school teachers to study plasma physics and fusion energy and to develop new plasma-based lesson plans, student-led investigations and demonstrations.
- Jefferson Lab's "Science Activities for Teachers" is a year-long program designed to build teachers' skills in the physical sciences and features lectures by Lab staff on the applications of science.
- Lawrence Livermore National Lab's Teacher Research Academy offers middle school, high school and community college faculty unique hands-on learning experiences that equip them to guide student research projects, gives them experience using scientific equipment and improves their ability to provide students with the context for the science they're learning in the classroom.
Throughout the month of February, we'll be highlighting these programs for students and teachers on Energy.gov. We'll also be profiling the career paths that many of the brilliant scientists that work at the National Labs have taken to get where they are today. And, hopefully, we'll inspire the next generation of STEM professionals along the way.