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STEM alludes to an educational curriculum based on the idea to teach students in four specific academic disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Rather than teaching these subjects under separate categories, STEM education integrates them and provides a holistic learning experience. Since the subject presents absolute practicality, it reflects a paradigm shift that enables cohesive learning.
The United States of America has conventionally been a leader in these fields. However, recently fewer students are focusing on this topic. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of the students are interested in pursuing a career in the STEM field and have proven a proficiency in mathematics. Moreover, 28 percent of high school goers have expressed an affinity by declaring a career in a STEM-related field, but 57 percent out of them will eventually lose interest by the time they graduate.
Consequently, the United States government declared an initiative known as “Educate to Innovate,” which aimed at inspiring and motivating students to join STEM-related careers. The goal is to get American children right into the hearts of these subjects, while they gain traction in the international arena. The government has further invested $3.1 billion in federal programs on STEM education.
The Significance of STEM Education
STEM careers are growing in popularity. According to a report conceded by STEM Connector, by 2018, projections estimate that there will be a spike in stem-related jobs, and the demand would rise to 8.65 million workers. The manufacturing sector has been facing an alarmingly substantial shortage of workers who are proficient in this field. The report accounted for their number to be nearly 600,000. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics assessed that by 2018, the major STEM careers would be:
- Computing – 71 percent
- Traditional Engineering – 16 percent
- Physical sciences – 7 percent
- Life sciences – 4 percent
- Mathematics – 2 percent
United States has continually been the champion of STEM education careers. However, studies have shown that all of it is just to meet a need, fill in the demand gap when the markets are high. Not all STEM jobs necessitate higher education or even a college degree. Less than half of entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, a four-year degree instead of a diploma would be incredibly helpful with salary. Surveys have further shown that the average advertised starting salary for STEM jobs with a bachelor’s degree is 26 percent higher than the non-STEM fields. For every job posting for an individual who possesses a bachelor’s degree in a non-STEM field, there are 2.5 more entry-level job postings for an individual who has acquired a degree in a STEM field.
Do you know what separates STEM from conventional math and science education? Yes, it is the holistic environment that the discipline presents. It teaches students computational skills and helps them focus on real-world problems while applying their knowledge to practical and realistic situations. STEM education begins when children are very young, and the skills are inducted further into their middle and higher school studies.
Elementary school – STEM education at the elementary level focuses on the introductory level courses, as well as a comprehensive awareness about career options and occupations. It is the primary step of induction and motivates children to pursue a career in the field. It further provides structure and opens up a channel for inquisitive students who have legitimate inquiries. It further prompts students to solve real-world problems while developing their aptitude.
Middle school – As the students transcend into middle school, the course becomes rigorous and challenging. The awareness is still furthered; however, the academic requirements of the field are unleashed onto the students. For under-represented populations, student exploration teams formulated by STEM begin recruiting students at this level.
High school – Course pathways are now laid down as the children tumble into high school. An inclusive and wide-embracing approach has opted, and students are taught to apply the subject in realistic scenarios. Learners are further taught as well as prepared for post-secondary education and employment. The goal is to pique their interest. The course strives at students wanting to pursue a career in the field, rather than being forced to have to. It also emphasizes bridging learning opportunities, both in and out of school.
A large portion of the curriculum is aimed at attracting under-represented populations. For instance, female students are far less likely to pursue a college major or career. Though it is not something we as a community witnessed momentarily, the gap is significantly increasing. Therefore, the curriculum focuses on amplifying every section that under-represents their role in prudent fields. Moreover, the discipline aims at deescalating stereotypes such as male students preferring to opt for engineering or technological fields, while female students stick themselves to science, like biology or chemistry. However, it must not be the case since education must be open to all, equally.
Although bridging the gap that has already been created in the impressionable minds of students is challenging, the feat is not impossible. The field also witnesses ethnic under-representation and over-representation. For instance, students with Asian descent have historically displayed more interest in the field. Prior to 2001, children from African-American communities also showed higher interest levels, second to only the Asian demographic. However, since then, the statistics for the community has plummeted drastically, far more than any other ethnicity.
To Wrap up
The importance of STEM education has been re-iterated over the centuries, where humans have stood witness to revolutionary inventions and medical marvels. Therefore, furthering the students to pursue a career that will help evolve mankind is imperative. STEM education presents opportunities that only a few fields can offer. With doctors and engineers commanding the highest salaries, the world runs at their behest. Not only would we be incapable of accessing the phone, but the disruptive invention of high-speed internet is also something that has gotten our hands tied and lips sealed today. Therefore, promoting your child to craft a career in the most prosperous field could be a prudent choice.