This scholarship has implications for your future

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship foundation just announced this year's recipients. You can apply for the scholarship here.

From their website:

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.

What's interesting to me is that more than half of this year's 272 Goldwater scholars listed "teach at the university level" as a career goal.

Our nation's future looks bright indeed, when so many brilliant young minds want to share their knowledge with the world. But future teachers must be ready for a level of competition that normally only exists in such fields as the music industry or professional sports.

The Goldwater Scholarship recipients have confirmed my own subjective experience. I've found that about a third of my students are interested in becoming teachers. At a recent Senior Presentation, I watched a graduating student warn his math teacher, "In a few years I'm coming back to take your job."

I can understand the impending glut in educators. When you discover a subject that captures your interest and passion, you want to share it with the world. And if you can get paid to do this, you're going to jump through a hoop of burning magnesium to secure the position. (In fact, you will jump through a lot of hoops, and even get burned from time to time, if you become a science teacher.)

The best, most passionate scholars will be teaching in the future.

The rest will find their way. There is a great demand for engineers and researchers. The true scholars with a more entrepreneurial disposition will create online science lessons. And my advice for competing in the new world of science education?

Get back to the simple, hands-on stuff.

There is already a glut of PhDs who are doing jobs for which they're overqualified. But in the field of education, there seems to be a constant need for more practical experience. Students need to get their hands dirty, and see how science works in the real world and not just on paper.

In fact, my latest YouTube video was an attempt to get back to this basic simplicity. I took a few fossils that I collected on a hike with fellow science teachers, and demonstrated the use of a magnifying glass.

If you have an advanced degree in chemical engineering, you'll be competing with a lot of other scholarship-winning experts when you want a science teaching job.

But if you can master the simple and tangible work, you'll always be in demand.

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