- A new study by Stanford University researcher Raj Chetty analyzes the relationship between students' exposure to innovation and the likelihood they will become inventors. It concluded that many “lost Einsteins” are hindered from invention because of social and geographic opportunity gaps that limit their exposure to innovation and potential careers in the field, eSchool News reports.
- The study suggests that there must be focus on a young person’s “inherited network," which can be limited by where they live, family networks and school instructional models. This network can limit a student’s exposure to new ideas and industry leaders in the field of innovation.
- Schools can help bridge this opportunity gap by connecting students to community-based activities and internships and having real-world professionals visit schools; for students whose geography limits personal networking options, there several Internet platforms and websites that can help schools make those connections.
Limited opportunities can sometimes stunt a student’s dreams. For instance, a bright student with mechanical abilities may see himself or herself as an auto mechanic, but not as an engineer if he or she has never met an engineer. In the past, geography often limited a student’s exposure to innovative and creative professionals. In the new digital age, however, such connections are increasingly possible. With increased opportunities for exposure, the “lost Einsteins” can be more easily identified and propelled in to brighter futures with an opportunity to bring new ideas to the table.
Expanding networking options for students through community partnerships, career fairs, internships or digital means is an important and cost-effective way to help close the opportunity gap. As a student meets industry professionals, inventors, engineers, computer programmers, and artists, they learn more about what they have available. Once they connect with a future career, their level of engagement with learning increases and academic improvement often follows.
Improving students' networking opportunities may also lead to career connections, especially through internships. In fact, some recruiters suggest that high school students begin to build a career by networking and learning these skills. Building stronger connections for students requires time and diligence, but usually costs little money. It may be a small price to pay for the possibility of igniting a passion in a future innovator who may change the world for the better.