According to this year's Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, an overwhelming majority of American teens are embracing the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with increasingly positive attitudes. However, at the same time, many of these young scientists and engineers lack the necessary encouragement from mentors and role models in these fields. The annual Lemelson-MIT survey, which provides a barometer for perceptions about invention and innovation, also provides insights into the level of overall preparedness to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Overall, teens are optimistic about STEM careers. According to the 2009 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, 85% of teens surveyed expressed interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Of those teens expressing interest in STEM careers, most would be motivated to work in related fields out of altruistic versus materialistic motives. Indeed, more than half of teens (56%) selected "protecting the environment" or "improving our society" as their inspiration. Only 18% said they were motivated to pursue STEM careers for the purposes of becoming rich or famous.
Finally, 80% of those surveyed feel their schools have prepared them to pursue a future career in these fields.