The need for new approaches to STEM education in the United States has been extensively documented and widely supported. Studies from the Pew Research Center on basic scientific knowledge of fundamental concepts from sound waves to the chemical behavior of water demonstrate the extent to which Americans lack an understanding of the world around them. The US also lags behind other developed countries in student performance on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Further, nearly 20% of students in the ninth grade, an important year that marks the transition to high school, are not enrolled in a single science course and just 17% of high school students ever enroll in an AP math or science course, known for being some of the most rigorous courses available in high schools.
We aim to provide educators with new resources that will help students see the value in taking rigorous science courses and developing a true understanding of science by opening a window into the work of current scientific research. By making the connections between the science they learn in school and the science done in the lab, we hope students start to envision themselves as the researchers of the future.