Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) drives economic success, yet the poorest and most socially disadvantaged Jamaican children avoid or perform poorly in the sciences. Their communities show little appreciation for STEM and under-resourced schools are ill equipped for constructive, engaging science teaching. Help us to correct this stifling inequity by exciting children with science and igniting them to apply reasoning and analytical skills to resolve everyday challenges.
Jamaica's national science average for students leaving primary schools was 52-55% from 2005-2009 and 63% in 2013. Schools catering to the poorest students such as those in inner cities, had science averages up to 12% below the national average. These schools lack resources and lab equipment for adequate science teaching, and students lack exposure to science role models, resulting in little awareness of the capacity to use science to improve their social condition.
Workshops allow students to investigate modern science concepts in age appropriate, familiar contexts, such as DNA extraction, forensic science and microscopy of pond water. Students are hosted in the inspiring environment of a university laboratory and guided by qualified Jamaican scientists to execute the experiments. Continued engagement of students occurs through science essay competitions, career talks by eminent scientists and equipping school laboratories.
Workshop participants will be transformed into science ambassadors by enhancing their perception of science, fostering pursuit of science education and careers and promoting science skills sharing. From the pilot workshops, 80% of participants who never considered a science career now desire this. A student shared that the first time he considered attending University was after participating in the workshop, indicating the strong positive social transformation this project will have in Jamaica.