ERC Launches Young Scholars Program for Groups Historically Excluded from STEM Fields

Achievement date: 

To expand interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields among high school students, the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Technologies for the Preservation of Biological Systems (ATP-Bio), co-led by the University of Minnesota and Massachusetts General Hospital, introduced a Young Scholars program in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Students from groups that have been historically excluded were able to strengthen their STEM identities and interest in pursuing STEM degrees and careers. Young Scholars program participants engaged in experiments on the University of Minnesota campus using equipment that is not accessible in high schools to conduct authentic STEM research.


The Young Scholars program was launched in 2022 with 17 high school students from St. Paul public schools. The students participated in a two-week summer STEM program at the University of Minnesota from June 13 to 24, and four students continued for an additional six weeks as interns at two ATP-Bio research labs. All 17 high school participants were from groups that have been historically excluded from STEM fields.

When the students were asked how the Young Scholars program helped them think about their future in STEM, one student replied: “I really liked the lab tours and seeing what grad school and STEM experiments are like after high school. During the lab tours, I learned a lot about what it would be like to get a Ph.D. in STEM, as well as learning about cool things that I didn’t know existed.”