"When we hear directly from students that these experiences improved their confidence and furthered their passion for STEM, we know we've done our job," said Jeffrey Singleton, Director of Basic Research, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. "It's all about creating a cohesive portfolio of programs that stimulate and encourage young people in their pursuit of STEM education and careers. We continue to work hard to offer these programs, which span from elementary grades through college, to more students."
The need has never been greater for all students, particularly students from underserved communities, to develop STEM literacy. STEM jobs are growing faster than any other field, and more employers—within and outside of STEM fields—are requiring that candidates possess the skills gained through STEM study and exploration. In an increasingly global economy, students will need to apply these critical thinking and problem-solving skills to tackle our greatest challenges.
Through AEOP's suite of programs, students from elementary school to college, representing all proficiency levels and ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds, participate in real-world experiences involving STEM disciplines. Scientists, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians, who act as mentors and guides, introduce students to the various STEM opportunities within the Department of Defense through hands-on, project-based learning and provide advice for technical skill development and career planning.
All evaluation reports are available on the AEOP website. This year's survey highlights include:
- Over 75 percent of high school students who participated in AEOP's UNITE pre-collegiate summer program reported large gains in 21st-century skills. Gains were significant for students from low-income communities.
- After participating in the summer Research & Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP), high school "apprentices" studying with mentors at partner universities were more likely to aspire to a degree in STEM beyond a Bachelor's degree. There was a ten percent jump in the number of students who indicated an interest in pursuing a Ph.D.
- More than 80 percent of undergraduate College Qualified Leaders (CQL) found the experience rewarding enough to report they would participate again next year.
Part of AEOP's model for success is its partnerships with academia, industry, not-for-profit organizations and other government agencies to engage, inspire and attract the next generation of STEM talent and expose them to Department of Defense STEM career opportunities.
"The success of AEOP is critically dependent on a strong academic and industry partnership—just as our research is critically dependent on a strong relationship with the Defense Industrial Base," added Singleton.
In April 2016, AEOP, in collaboration with Battelle, awarded grants to eight organizations and technical associations to further expand student participation in enriching STEM exploration and learning, particularly for underserved students.
About AEOP: The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) is comprised of Army-sponsored research, education, competitions, internships, and practical experiences designed to engage and guide students and teachers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). From elementary school through graduate school, students at all levels, interests, ethnic, economic, and academic backgrounds are encouraged to participate in hands-on programs in STEM disciplines. More information is available at: www.usaeop.com.
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SOURCE The Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)