Hunting for Sci-Careers at Swampscott Middle School

Presenters from 16 different science-based fields talked to eighth graders about occupations and avenues to pursue those occupations.


Ask these eighth graders what they want to be when they grow up and their answers vary greatly.

Some say they have no clue.

Some say they have a clue, and it is pulling them towards careers in software engineering, psychology and physical therapy.

Some of them are getting a clue at , Wednesday, May 2, at the Science, Technology, Math and Engineering focused Career Day.

The goal this day is to show kids what is possible, career-wise, and how to get there, says event organizer and STEM teacher Adam Scharfenberger.

It's one thing to see forensics practiced by actors on network television; it's a whole different perspective for the kids when they hear from someone working in the field, he says, before hurrying back to the next presentation.

It's a busy morning at the Middle School, with 16 presenters, each of them presenting four programs in a row. The kids cycle from classroom to classroom hearing about careers including nursing, piloting, architecture, business, engineering, biology, medical science, oceanography, chemistry and physical therapy.

It's a bit of a drive-thru approach. The kids are exposed to a lot in a morning and a few of them appear like they are over-loaded with information.

Still, they hear themes about these science-based career fields.

One is that they need to be careful observers. Another is that they must be well educated.

On the first floor, not far from the preschool classrooms, Pam Landry, an educator with the MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, tells eight students sitting at a table strewn with animal pelts and skulls that they will probably need at least master's degrees to compete for jobs in tomorrow's work place.

The jobs do not pay real well — a starting salary with for a wildlife biologist is in the high $30s — but they can get by if they live within their means.

Wildlife work is a calling, a passion, she tells them.

Massachusetts has diverse wildlife populations from the moose of the Berkshires to the creatures that call Cape Cod home.

She has the students study the pelts and skulls. Look at the teeth and forage for facts in wildlife books on the table.

It's always wise to venture a guess, and rule out animals when trying to determine the animal they are looking at, she says.

Two students, Noah Maercklein and Peter Doyle, waste no time identifying the pelt before them as the former exterior of a beaver. Noah says the orange teeth are a tell-tale sign. 

The students say they heard in an earlier session about how advances in electronics and engineering may give movement to parayzed people. Thsi nterests them.

Sitting nearby, Zoe Petty and a friend say they were interested in a presentation they heard from a physical therapist.

Zoe said she wants to pursue a career that helps people. A career such as physical therapy.

Here in the wildlife presentation, the presenter said the main employer for these careers are state and federal agencies.

The careers themselves can range from research, to education to enforcement.

She especially likes her job as an educator, presenting to people of different ages, from children to adults, helping them reconnect with the outdoors.

Pam has been doing this job for 14 years.

Originally, she went to Clark in Worcester to study veterinary science. But while doing an internship at the New England Science Center, in the zoo and education department, she found she her interest sparked in wildlife education.

Students never know what will perk an interest in them.

The STEM Career Day catered to that possibility, that one or more may take an interest in a science-based career and stear their education in that direction.













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