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Science-based careers are expected to continue growing and paying top salaries. Unfortunately, many Black students are not on track to qualify for those job opportunities.

A group of researchers believe they’ve discovered why Black students tend to lag behind their White peers in science.

The study says the achievement gap begins in kindergarten, when children from higher income families enter school already having general knowledge about science, reports the American Educational Research Association.

“If you enter kindergarten with very little knowledge about the natural and social world, you are likely to be struggling in science by third grade, and you are then likely to still be struggling in science by eighth grade,” Pennsylvania State University Professor Paul L. Morgan, one of the researchers, said in a statement.

Upon entering kindergarten, 58 percent of Black children scored in the bottom percentile in general science knowledge—compared to just 15 percent of White children. The majority of those kids continued to struggle with science by the third and eighth grade.

But it’s more about family socioeconomic background than race. Few children from higher income brackets—just one out of 10—began school without knowing some science basics.

What are the solutions? As a first step, Morgan said parents, regardless of income, should spend time talking with their young children about the natural world around them.

Policymakers can also help close the gap. Unfortunately, children from low-income families typically lack better quality early childhood education, which can prepare them for kindergarten.

“Science achievement gaps are themselves mostly explained by underlying inequities that we, as a society, too often tolerate or simply decide not to fully address,” Morgan said in the statement.

This study is based on data of more than 7,750 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The team included two other Pennsylvania State University researchers, Marianne M. Hillemeier and Steve Maczuga, as well as George Farkas from the University of California, Irvine.

Here are some recommendations from the National Science Teachers Association:

  1. Look for learning opportunities: Encourage curiosity about the world by asking your child questions about the natural world and brainteasers.
  2. Discuss science topics: Talk to your child about recent science-related stories in the newspaper, such as space shuttle missions and medical breakthroughs.
  3. Do experiments together: Ask your child’s science teacher to recommend experiments that you could do at home.
  4. Obtain science resources: Reinforce classroom science lessons with books, magazines, and software.
  5. Get involved: Meet your child’s science teacher and take a look at the curriculum. Refer to NSTA’s checklist for a high-quality science education.

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How To Get Your Child Ready For STEM Success was originally published on

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4 thoughts on “How To Get Your Child Ready For STEM Success

  1. Pallas on said:

    Good luck competing with the H1b workers for the STEM jobs. Go into any employer and see how few native Americans are there. It is just sad what employers are doing.

  2. Lewis Peterson on said:

    I have published a book that will help families in reference to STEM options. It is titled Skilled Tech Legit (essays, interviews with skill technicians, educational support proposals, strategies for churches, community centers, and schools).

  3. Inesa Hagan on said:

    Amen to this. So many people ask my how I can spend $1450 for my daughter to go to Marine Biology sea camp for a week, when they spend the same amount on their child’s sports. I have moved cities just to ensure that my daughter, who wants to be a biochemical engineer or biochemistry engineer, has been able to go to the best gifted/ magnet programs and now she is going to a STEM focused school. There is a difference between the STEM program within a school and a STEM focused school. The school district that we live in would not release her to a different school district, because they want to keep her in their district and get the money for her, but they do not have a STEM focused school, just STEM focused programs within their schools and that is what I tried to show them, but they still denied her. So we are moving again! I encourage everyone to engage in the conversations like they mentioned above. I do agree that it has a lot to do with your income and where you live, but God can make anything happen in your life , if it is in His will. So continue to encourage your children to be whatever they want to be and don’t limit them based on income and demographics.

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