Science & Technology
4:52 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Students Learn About Science, Technology Careers at ‘SciTech Days'

The Carnegie Science Center is holding an exposition to introduce middle school and high school students to career options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

In its twelfth year, "SciTech Days" is expected to bring in more than 3,000 students this week, learning about STEM professions from about 40 businesses and universities. Another 3,000 are expected in the November edition of SciTech Days.

Linda Ortenzo, Director of STEM Programs at the Science Center, said the students get to see how science and technology are used in business.

"It answers that age-old question that teachers hear all the time: 'Why do I have to learn this?'" said Ortenzo. "Well, look what someone did with that information. What would you do? What kind of problems would you like to solve? What kind of things would you like to invent? It's really designed to excite the students, inspire them to think about what's possible."

She said there is a dearth of STEM employees in the Pittsburgh-area workforce.

"We're actually going to need to replace about 150,000 people within the next 10-15 years," said Ortenzo. "At any given time in the City of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, there are about 2,000 positions that go unfilled because they require specific skills, and we just don't have the people going into those fields."

In addition to the interactive kiosks set up by groups like Bayer, PPG, and Carnegie Mellon University, Ortenzo said the Science Center set up a number of workshops.

"Marcellus Shale is one, where the students learn about the energy potential and learn about the environmental factors involved in that kind of exploration," said Ortenzo. "We also have robotics workshops, where students learn to program a robot. They learn basic [programming] language, and they do that in 45 minutes."

SciTech Days brings in about 750 students per day from Tuesday to Friday this week. It's a program of the Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development at the Carnegie Science Center.