Camp opening students’ eyes to STEM careers

ST. BONAVENTURE (WIVB) — St. Bonaventure University is hosting a group of high school students interested in STEM careers. STEM is the acronym for jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

This is the first year the university is holding the camp for high schoolers. The director, Xiaoning Zhang, says she came up with the idea upon reflecting on her experiences as a young scientist.

“When I grew up, I didn’t have a lot of people giving me advice,” says Zhang who works as an Associate Professor at St. Bonaventure.

The two week camp allows students to work in the university’s labs, use their high-tech equipment and do their own research.

“I feel it is important to start early,” says Darienne Slocum, a student who is interested in the STEM fields. “I’m doing things right now that juniors in college are doing in her [Zhang’s] classes. Now that I have that experience, it’ll be amazing in college because it won’t be as hard for me.”

Academic research shows interest in STEM studies begins to decline in 4th grade, again in 7th and dips to its lowest point in 11th grade.

Darienne and fellow camper, Nick, say they see that happening among their classmates.

“There’s definitely a division of people who want to and who don’t want to [go into science],” says Slocum. “You can tell there are some people who want to go and be scientists and others who have zero interest.”

“I think, as you become more involved and the sciences become harder, some times people don’t want to do,” says Nick Jodush.

The soon-to-be high school seniors say the camp is invaluable because they don’t have as many opportunities in school for these kinds of hands on experiences.