Experiences in sixth grade can have a big impact in shaping what students end up doing to make a living, according to Bransfield. He thinks the positive experiences Hansen provides will spur many of them to consider science careers.
“There’s a lot of data out there that says if you don’t get kids interested and involved with science during the middle school years, by the time they get to high school it will be too late,” Bransfield said. “They won’t go into those careers later on. So Mike is at the forefront of getting kids interested in science and that’s what it’s all about.”
Hansen said he realizes not every student will pursue a science career, but something even bigger is at stake. “I want my students at the end of the year leaving here wanting to do more science,” he said. “I want them to leave not being turned off to this subject.
“So many of today’s decisions are science-based, whether it be climate change, whether it be health care.”
Hansen said his biggest goal is for students to become educated members of society who can make their own decisions and “not be so reliant on what people tell them to think.”
Mark Micheli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.