Siemens's ending should not discourage students

May 7, 2018 — by Howard Tang

High schoolers all across the U.S. were astonished when the Siemens Foundation announced in February that the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology would end this summer.

According to the Siemens Foundation, the board members decided to place their investments in other options, including expanding partnerships with other STEM programs that could provide young people with access to STEM education and training.

Ever since Siemens’s inauguration in 1998, thousands of hopeful students have submitted their research work to be judged on a national scale. Over the years, the foundation has awarded over $10 million worth of scholarships, each ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. For students, winning one could be life changing and large part of a college application.

To this end, many students have attended summer research programs and worked in university labs for free in hopes of producing and submitting papers to competitions like Siemens. But even with the end of Siemens, all is not lost for those interested in science for the right reasons.

In truth, many students go through this process just for an advantage in the college admissions process and not because they are truly passionate about their research.

Research offers an exciting opportunity to be creative in exploring diverse issues, strengthening problem-solving abilities and examining possible career options. But if students are not deeply interested in conducting research at an early age, then they should not force themselves to do it, especially just for the sake of college applications. In fact, Siemens’s discontinuation helps remove some of the competitiveness that afflicts these programs.

In addition, the end of the Siemens competition is not the end of all science fairs. There are dozens of other prestigious competitions, including but not limited to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the Regeneron Science Talent Search and the Google Science Fair.

As the summer approaches and students begin recalling the disappearance of one of the most prominent research competitions, they should take heart. If they were thinking of submitting a project just to display “Siemens winner” on their college resume, they should instead focus on something else they truly enjoy. If they weren’t, they can still find plenty of research competitions out there that are willing to accept and judge their entries.

 

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