Directions for teachers:

Use the first two questions to start a class discussion about profiles, defining what a profile is, why a profile might be written and what information it commonly includes.

Next, ask students to reflect for a few minutes and write down a STEM topic or field that interests them. Emphasize that this is an exploratory exercise and that students’ choices can be based on classes they enjoyed, hobbies they have or topics they find interesting. Keeping this topic or field in mind, ask students to choose and read one scientist profile from Science News’ list of SN 10: Scientists to Watch for 2020, and one profile from the Science News for StudentsCool Jobs” collection in their area of interest.

If your class has already done this guide’s Comprehension exercise, students should use the SN 10 profile that they have already read. Be sure to encourage students to browse through multiple “Cool Jobs” profiles before choosing one, as there are nearly 100 articles!

After reading both profiles, students should answer questions No. 3–7, which ask them to compare the scientists’ pathways to success. Finally, students will reflect on their own goals and discuss with a partner their own STEM journey. As an optional extension, students can construct a visual summary of one of the scientists’ paths and share the summary with the class.

Want to make it a virtual lesson? Post the online version of “The SN 10: Scientists to Watch,” the link to the “Cool Jobs” collection and the student worksheet to your virtual classroom. Ask students to do the exercise individually and then discuss the last two questions with a partner via a video-conferencing platform or talking by phone. If you choose to do the extension, students can share their summaries to your class’s online discussion board. Think about framing the project as a virtual STEM career fair.


1. A profile is an article about a specific person. Why might a person have a profile written about them?

A person might be profiled because they have made a noteworthy accomplishment in their career field, taken a trip, organized or participated in a big event, or otherwise have an interesting personal history that people may want to learn about or be entertained by.

2. What key facts are commonly included in profiles? What information would you want to know about a person being profiled?

Profiles can include information about a person such as their childhood or family, education and work history, professional accomplishments, day-to-day experiences, hobbies and goals. Student could mention that they would want to know about challenges a person faced and how that person overcame the challenges.

Comparing paths to success

3. What is the name of the scientist in the “Cool Jobs” profile you read, and what is their career? What about the SN 10 scientist?

Student answers will vary.

4. How did the scientists get to where they are today? For each profile, make a list of events and key information that tell a story about how the scientist reached their current position. Keep the following points in mind when constructing your lists:

Does the scientist mention a moment of inspiration for their research/STEM journey?

Do they name a mentor or important person that helped them?

What education degrees and work experience do they have?

Have they collaborated with other scientists?

What highlights and challenges did they face and how did those help them reach where they are now?

What are their aspirations for the future?

What accomplishments do they mention?

Student answers will vary.

5. Compare the two lists. What similarities do the scientists’ pathways share, and how are the pathways different?

Student answers will vary but could mention that some similarities might include sources of inspiration (such as from childhood experiences), encouragement by mentors and collaboration with other scientists. Differences may include educational and professional background, challenges faced on their respective pathways and goals for the future.  

Finding your own path

6. Think about where you are on your own STEM journey. If you were to pursue the career of a scientist you read about in one of the profiles, what is the next step you might take?

Student answers will vary.

7. Did this exercise give you new ideas about possible STEM pathways? Explain.

Student answers will vary.

Optional: Construct a timeline or another visual representation of the STEM career pathway taken by one of the scientists you read about. Make sure to emphasize major events, experiences, challenges and other information that you noted in your previous answers.