Cloudy With A Chance of Research

Tick tock. The clock is ticking. It’s spring break, and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t making the state of affairs any better for you, stuck at home with virtually nothing to do. Luckily, you have your smartphone and a laptop computer, either from yourself or rented by the local school district. Now what?

Fortunately, the World Wide Web is more than just a hub for socializing and looking up news and current events. By browsing the Internet meticulously, you will be able to find seemingly endless troves of STEAM resources and opportunities for you to explore during your free time! Here’s a list of things you should keep your eye out for:

1. News. No, I’m not talking about mainstream media from BBC to The New York Times. The world of STEAM continues to develop and evolve each day and online news sites post updates in real time to document such breakthroughs for public use. The layout of these websites are similar to those used by mass media in terms of user-friendliness so need not worry about that! Awesome sites to start with include Scientific American and Science News, all of which feature content from a diverse roster of fields including combinatorics, biotechnology, engineering, meteorology, and organic chemistry, to name a few! 

If you want to take a step further, scientific journals offer a more comprehensive abstract and summary of recent studies and research experiments. While some terms are technical and specific to a given study, the general theme throughout articles are easy to comprehend. Try out the American Association for the Advancement of Science to begin with!  

2. Podcasts. Each individual absorbs information in a different way from others, and this definitely applies to knowledge outside of the range mandated by schools within their curricula. Podcasts are series of audio commentaries divided in an episodic manner for people to listen to in their spare time as they tackle a wide range of topics following themes such as current events, technological advances, education, and the like. Check out this handy-dandy list of the most recommended STEAM podcasts you should tune in to!

3. Internships. Now that you have more control over what to do with your time, it is suggested that you explore internships over either summer or winter break. Internships offer practical experience and an insider’s view of what work is like in prospective careers you’ll further explore in college. While a quick, general Google search would tell you that some internships DO cost money out of your pocket to be part of their programs, shoot for free, local internships on STEAM fields that you are interested in. Remember, you do not have to lock in on a career nor major during high school so use such opportunities as a means to narrow down those choices as much as possible!

4. Virtual Programs. With COVID-19 running rampant across the country, some internships (as described above) may have unfortunately been cancelled by organizers to prioritize the safety of their applicants. Excellent alternatives for these include virtual programs, known as such due to their flexibility and ability to be conducted online. This is a broad category and as a result, it may overlap with internships and nonprofit organizations but if you are really itching to do something meaningful and impactful, I highly recommend participating in this type of activity! Examples for high school students include the highly acclaimed New York Academy of Sciences - Junior Academy and remote opportunities in your local community!

5. Organizations. As local and virtual accessibility expanded over the years, passionate young students and adults across the country (and even the world) have collaborated to form organizations with noble causes. STEAM On, for one, is a student-run nonprofit organization that aims to promote accessibility and equity when it comes to STEAM resources. If you are interested in progressing a cause, whether it be outreach or spreading awareness on an underrepresented field in STEAM, there are countless new and rising organizations that might represent your interests. Check this spreadsheet for a running list of student organizations out there!

Stay safe, wash your hands, and make the most out of your free time with extensive research and proactive exploration. Trust me, it’ll be worth it with the mind-blowing insights and the irreplaceable experiences you’ll gain by taking on these opportunities at the comforts of home.

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