I know what it took to get my intraverted self to take initiative in high school. Granted, I’m not like everyone else, but it did take a lot of leading the horse to water before I could stand on my own. So here’s my story:
The inspiration came in 8th grade on a field trip to a museum where I was fascinated by the way a magnet moving around a coiled wire could create a live current. I then came up with (over the next 3 years) 17 designs for perpetual motion machines that utilised that concept. The final two designs would in theory work since they were in a weightless environment, with no light or sound – so in theory they would work but we’d never know if they actually did or not because we could never see or hear it. For the entirety of those three years I argued and argued via email of why my design would work with some professor from Research Triangle Park, NC. The professor did bring up an interesting idea, wondering if the magnetic bearings could cause friction via the magnetic field, however my electromagnetics course in college didn’t have anything I could use to prove/disprove the idea.
Parallel to all of this, I started playing football in 10th grade. I knew it would take work to become any good at it, so I worked out starting the middle of 9th grade, did foot drills and knew every play so well that I could tell anyone on the offensive line what they were supposed to do on a particular play. 175lbs, I had to be fast and quick minded, and strong. I knew what I had to do, but without a great coach along the way (sometimes yelling) for encouragement and leadership, I would never have seen what kind of passion it takes to play such a game on the offensive line to its fullest. (7-4 my senior year with me starting at left guard, knocked out second round of the playoffs)
Ironically, it was my offensive line coach, who admits to knowing next to nothing about the math of physics, that kept directly encouraging me to argue my points to a professor, and to keep redesigning my machine to account for flaws that were pointed out.
From my perspective it takes inspiration, direct coaching, constructive/calm critisism, encouragment, and a leader who lets the student know that there is much expected of him/her. Just as important as the student finding initiative is the leader that should be willing to do all of the above with some heart when a student comes forward.
On a side note, if you wonder why students don’t clean up after themselves in the shop/lab, alot of times it can be pointed back to the leadership – they won’t clean it up themselves if they never see you cleaning it up yourself. If you’re lazy, they will be too.