One school is working to change the statistics through a program open to any student, free of charge. The sumer long science experiment on UT Campus is not a typical experience for students especially those who haven't even graduated from high school.
"These are actual national science foundation funded or United State Department of Agriculture funded grants that they are doing the hands on work with," said Dr. Steven Rip with the University of Tennesee.
The program is only in its second year. Oak Ridge High School Science teacher Sharon Thomas started the program because she wanted to show her students how science is really done by bringing them into two world renowned facilities which just happened to be close by, The Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Tennessee.
"It just makes it more real - why are - why do we do these things - what's the benefit - it kind of just brings it all together," said Thomas. The young men and women asked to spend their summer working shoulder to shoulder surrounded by multi-million dollar science equipment because they say the experience takes their education to a new level.
"We've learned how to use a lot of laboratory equipment - they had us - we programmed thise giant robot machine thing," said Oak Ridge High School Student Sirui Ma. It's already paid off for previous students and Sharon Thomas said that trend of success is continuing for these kids.
"That's what makes me the most proud - is to see these kids just do a wonderful for a wonderful job and represent Oak Ridge High School well - it's exciting to see," said Thomas. Thomas isn't just helping Oak Ridge students. Over the past two years, she has also placed kids from other schools with summer internships at the UT and Oak Ridge labs.
She also recently recieved a $10,000 grant. That money will provide stipends for students taking part in the program who would normally have to get a summer job instead of a summer internship.