By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Science is cool, but just over half consider studying it in developed countries, according to a new study released by Lenovo last week.

In contrast, that spirit of adventure and focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) remains strong in emerging market countries.

Lenovo revealed the 2011 Global Student Science and Technology Outlook on Thursday concluding that emerging countries (India, Mexico, Russia) are prioritizing science careers over students in developed countries (Canada, Japan, U.K., and the U.S.).

RedShift Research conducted the research on behalf of Lenovo and surveyed 4,800 students online between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1, 2011, in two categories: high school (14-17 years old) and full/part-time university students (18-22 years old).

While 89 percent of the respondents agree science is cool, only slightly more than half overall are considering pursuing STEM careers.

Furthermore, when asked if given the opportunity to take a trip to the moon or any place on Earth, just 43 percent in total chose the moon, although 62 percent of students in India polled said they would suit up for the ride.

“These results are eye-opening in calling attention to the differences in how students around the world view science as a career aspiration,” said Michael Schmedlen, Lenovo’s worldwide director of education.

According to Lenovo’s study, interest in STEM fields varies by nationality.

Students in India ranked highest for those who believe it’s important for their country to lead the world in science, closely followed by students in Mexico and Russia. In contrast, students in the U.S., Japan, U.K., and Canada were lower.

The contrast between students in emerging and developed countries becomes more obvious when students are asked if their country has enough scientists and whether this influences their career choice.

Seventy-three percent of students agree there is a lack of scientists, and students in Mexico and Russia are especially aware of this shortage. Across all countries, this deficiency motivates 65 percent of kids to pursue a science-related career. This motivation is highest in India followed by Mexico then Russia.

Japanese students fall somewhere in the middle while students in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. have lower scores.

When it comes to who’s actually planning to pursue a STEM-related career, students in the three emerging countries ranked the highest.

Mexico tops the list with 69 percent of students saying they plan to pursue one, outpacing India’s and Russia. Fifty-four percent of U.S. students have this opinion as well, while students in the U.K. and Japan trail significantly behind.

The study’s most encouraging finding reveals that a vast majority of students say science is cool, however, only a slight majority responded that they intend to pursue a science/STEM-related career.

The top reasons cited by students for those not pursuing a STEM career are a lack of confidence in their abilities and too much work/schooling required. Of interest, most students said they choose by middle school whether or not to pursue science and that their parents and teachers play a key role in shaping their decisions.

The study also finds that access to technology factors into student interest. Most students report the laptop/PC as the piece of technology most influential in shaping their pursuit of science, followed by Internet access.

The world’s No. 3 PC-maker recently partnered with YouTube Space Lab to promote STEM. The online competition began last month and asked students around the world to submit an experiment that can be performed in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The winner/winning team’s experiment will be conducted in a live stream from the ISS in 2012.

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