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Leveling the playing field for students in STEM courses

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Within the next five years, it's estimated that there will be over 2 million job openings in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. And yet, nearly 90 percent of high school graduates surveyed were not interested in a career or major in the STEM fields. One of the biggest reasons cited in a New York Times editorial is that students have been turned off to the subjects early on and end up convinced that they're "no good at math."

Pope:             I try to get students to realize that there is no math gene. People say that some people are just born with the math gene and they do it and other people just don't have the math gene and they don't do it. You know, a lot of it is, what was your earlier preparation?

Narrator:       Math specialist Tansel Pope of the University of California, Berkeley, says every summer he teaches high school students enrolled in the university's Early Academic Outreach Program to help level the playing field.

Pope:             What students are exposed to and what they learn is largely a circumstance of where they go to school and where they live. That's my biggest reason why I do this every year.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.