MIT Teen STEM Survey

The 2009 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index is a survey that gauges teens' (a nationally representative sample size of 500, aged 12-17) attitudes toward invention and innovation. Although this year's report reveals that American teenagers are embracing STEM subject with positive attitudes, the report also suggests teens may lack the support from mentors and role models in that would help the students pursue careers in the subjects. The majority of teens felt their schools have sufficiently prepared them to pursue a career in the STEM subjects if they so desire, with confidence being higher among students aged 12-14 (87%) compared to students aged 15-17 (74%). The following are a few preliminary findings among the teens surveyed:

-85% expressed interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
-44% cited "curiosity about the way things work" as the driving factor for their interest
-56% cited "protecting the environment" or "improving our society" as their motivation
-25% want to pursue a STEM subject career "to pursue a passion"
-18% said they were motivated to pursue STEM subjects to become rich or famous

The index also measured what inventions teens think will become obsolete in five years. The results were as follows:
-37%: gas-powered car
-32%: landline phone
-21%: computer mouse
-4%: other

Regarding problems in how well STEM subjects are being taught in schools, nearly 2/3 of teens said they may be discouraged from pursuing a STEM-related career because they don't know anyone who works in the fields (31%) or understand what these jobs entail (28%). To address these issues, the Lemelson-MIT group introduced "InvenTeams," comprised of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants to invent technological solutions. InvenTeams is designed to excite high school students about invention and problem-solving, and to encourage an "inventive culture in schools and communities."