Fueling the STEM Pipeline
Who will generate the science and high-tech talent that business, industry, and academia will need in the coming decade is a topic much debated across campuses and in business roundtables throughout our Philadelphia region. In reporting on the number of students planning additional study following their college graduation, the Educational Testing Service (College Board) noted that 2014 saw a "significant upward momentum in STEM fields," specifically, an "impressive 24 percent growth in engineering followed closely by a 22 percent gain in the physical sciences. Life sciences," it further stated, "reported a strong seven percent increase, surpassing many other fields."
This STEM - science, technology, engineering, mathematics - pipeline, ETS noted, "starts in elementary school and extends through the professoriate and the rest of the workforce." Lansdale Catholic High School is doing its share, and then some, in fueling that pipeline.
Over the past five years, the majority of Lansdale's college-bound students have sought careers in STEM fields. In fact, 100 percent of Lansdale's top 10 students from the Class of 2015 are pursuing a STEM major. They're attending Penn State's Schreyer Honors College, Providence College, Catholic U., Notre Dame, and Drexel University, among others. They're majoring in computer science/cyber security, bio-medical engineering, math, chemistry, aeronautical engineering, biology, architectural engineering, civil engineering, and occupational therapy. These 10 students received more than $5.3 million in scholarship offers from all of their accepting institutions.
They benefited from multiple Lansdale Catholic faculty members with industry experience who bring real-life knowledge and practices to their classrooms and expose students to a range of STEM careers. The many female instructors serve as mentors as well as examples for both genders. They promote STEM studies with their students, regardless of gender or race. Their efforts prove positive; defying gender stereotypes in the field, seven of Lansdale's top 10 graduates now enrolled in STEM-based college majors are women.
Barbara Albanese combines her master's degree in analytical chemistry with earlier experience at Mobil Oil Corporation and ARCO Chemical to apply a distinctive dimension to her Advanced Placement chemistry course. Mary Antoni's advanced studies in marketing, education, and psychology broaden her baccalaureate degree in chemistry, while her experiences with Lipton (Unilever Corp.), Pennwalt, and Rohm and Haas enhance her role as STEM Advisor and developer of the school's STEM Resource Center.
All science and math faculty use multiple teaching strategies to tap the potential of each student, whether enrolled in AP chemistry, calculus, statistics, physics, and biology or engaging in national and local competitions ranging from robotics to computer programming. They couple their courses with a successful lecture series featuring practitioners from regional STEM-related businesses, career shadowing, and professional networking opportunities to expose all students to a diversity of STEM studies and careers.
Lansdale Catholic's STEM initiatives are an example of exciting thinking and action taking place in just one of the 17 Philadelphia-area Catholic high schools managed by Faith in the Future Foundation. Visit our publications page to view our Annual Report and Summer Progress Report and read more on our commitment to building capacity into our people to lead, teach, and operate 21st-century schools, to enhancing educational and artistic programs for our students, and to deploying technology to measure, monitor, and drive these improvements.