The Delaware Valley Science Council (DVSC) encourages students in our region to study and pursue careers in STEM disciplines.
The DVSC partners with schools, businesses, professional societies, and community volunteers to identify, encourage, and recognize young students who show early interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The organization, founded in 1946, has served the region for over 75 years – initially as the Philadelphia Science Council before changing to its current name in 2000 – and has over these many years recognized and rewarded thousands of high school students for demonstrating high achievement in the sciences.
Our primary program (new, and being piloted in 2024) invites schools to form one or more teams of 3-5 members from their 9th and 10th grades who demonstrate interest in STEM. We then provide them a “Challenge” problem statement and ask them to take on a project over a two month period to address in a way that would directly benefit their school or community. Judges then evaluate each project’s outputs (a slide presentation and multi-media product), offering feedback and ideas as appropriate. Finally, we formally recognize and publish completed work, with some small awards provided to the best projects. To assist the teams, we assign a mentor, or coach, to help guide them initially, and monitor their progress regularly and especially when they have questions, issues, or barriers.
The mentors hold scientific education backgrounds and are recruited from the community, industry and academia to guide students in thinking critically about their STEM project, and in working as a team, to generate their own solutions for the benefit of their communities.
This program is a conscious change from prior years in several important ways – moving from individuals to teams, requiring project-based outputs addressing real-world problems, making the program less of a competition while focusing on success, and involving STEM professionals to assist and give students exposure to possible future careers.
Added benefits of this program include opportunities for students to think critically and work together in teams, strengthening collaborative and social skills, while involved in real-world problem solving. Since this program is targeted at younger students, it is intended to provide a low-pressure entry opportunity to STEM disciplines that will build their interests in these areas.