Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM) have never been more important in our society. Now that our world runs on the internet, we need the next generation to be prepared to contribute to the digital future. We need to nurture the next generation of innovators and scientific thinkers.
Although we teach science and math as part of our schools’ core curriculum, most of our students are not receiving the kind of STEM education they need to thrive. The United States has historically been a leader in these fields, but that’s beginning to change. Fewer students are interested in pursuing a higher education path in STEM fields and pursuing those careers. Just 16% of American high schoolers are interested in STEM and have the mathematics proficiency to confidently pursue that dream. Of the 28% of high school freshmen with an interest in STEM, 57% will lose interest during their time in high school.
Why is STEM Important?
STEM fields offer students the opportunity for high-paying, fulfilling careers, but that’s not the only reason the next generation should be studying these subjects. General STEM knowledge is necessary for many careers and can help students develop, grow, and hone their problem-solving skills. Since many students get discouraged during the process of learning challenging STEM material, it’s crucial to keep children engaged with these subjects at every stage of their education. Not every student will go on to pursue a STEM career, but a positive learning experience is crucial to every student’s success.
Goals of STEM
Today, we know that students need more to their education than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although literacy and the arts are crucial components of a well-rounded education, more focus needs to be placed on STEM education, since many students struggle with or lose interest in these subjects. The goal of a STEM education is not only to teach students math and science skills but to help students improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, encourage students to seek out objective facts and take a logic-based approach to problems they will encounter in life. With STEM skills, students are well equipped to think different, solve problems, and be able to develop their knowledge into a great job later. Contrary to what most people think, STEM education actually utilizes many other skills that can translate into many other areas for careers. 73.4% of employers actively seek people with strong written and communication skills. A successful STEM education will help students have the necessary skills, and well-rounded education, to develop a career in many different industries and be successful.
Motivating Students for Their Future
Some children have a hard time seeing how what they’re learning will impact their lives in the future. Using concrete examples in a STEM education can help get kids motivated for their future and teach them necessary and valuable financial skills. STEM skills can help students prepare for their future and everyday lives, and get them engaged in thinking about their lives after they leave school.
Gaining Resiliency and Discipline
Many kids are taught to avoid failure. While this might sound like a good thing, it means that these children do not develop the resiliency and discipline to be successful in their adult lives. Challenging children to learn often-challenging STEM concepts can help them to accept and learn from failure, develop resiliency, discipline, and the ability to overcome challenges. This helps students to develop a healthy self-esteem, confidence, and prepare them for a lifetime of learning. STEM education has also been shown to stimulate new areas of the brain, helping children to improve their thinking and learning abilities.
Developing a strong STEM education program can also help children enrolled in special education. As of 2013-2014, 6.5 children and young adults between ages 3 and 21 used these services. Technology can help to engage and provide access to these students, helping to ensure they gain the same benefits of a STEM education as their peers. One example of this is the development of computers that students with disabilities can control with their eyes.
A Brighter Future with STEM
Regardless of a child’s future career plans, STEM should be an important part of education through high school. For those who do choose to go on to a career in one of these fields, the options are almost endless—and well-paid. 65% of STEM bachelor’s degree holders make more than master’s degree holders in other fields. However, even if they choose to pursue another path, a well-rounded STEM education is key for helping children to grow, learn, succeed, and gain valuable life skills. It’s just too important to ignore.