STEM education is an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to learning that provides hands-on learning experiences for students. STEM goes beyond the mere transfer of knowledge, it engages students and equips them with critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills. STEM ultimately establishes connections between the workplace, school, the community, and the global economy.
As explained by the California STEM learning network, STEM is defined as an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. STEM focuses on these areas of learning for student success because such fields are an essential part of learning and growing in everyday life.
According to the U.S. Department of Education “STEM is more that a school subject surrounded by periodic tables and mathematical charts”. It is an approach to the world and a critical way to understand and engage with the world around you.
However, few students today pursue careers in STEM fields because their is a stigma that the level of knowledge required within the field is extremely difficult. Moreover, there is also a limited amount of teachers who are skilled in STEM fields thus resulting in fewer numbers for both students and teachers who are in the field.
Since the start of the implementation of STEM programs which was originally created by Judith A. Ramaley, people have questioned the program’s ability to teach all students equally. It has been proven in recent studies that the education system has tailored its teaching standards to the abilities of female students, thus resulting in critics to believe that STEM programs are biased when teaching.
Although this is a touchy argument to hold, all students who decided to take on STEM benefit from the program and its ability to create global leaders for change. STEM not only teaches students about independent innovation, but it also teaches them to explore the depths of all subjects and utilizing the skills needed to implement change, creativity, and collaboration.
A study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicated that 40% of all U.S. students test at or below basic level in math. 50% of U.S. students test at or below basic in science and 30% of high school students taking math and physical science courses have teachers who did not major in those subjects or who are not certified to teach those courses.
These statistics lead to the common misconception that STEM programs are difficult to uphold. Knowing these statistics can help lead to a resurgence on global technology and leadership.
In regards to STEM and college degrees, more STEM degrees are needed to fill the demanding jobs of technology, science, and mathematics. The STEM education statistics highlight the fact that people with a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering have the highest starting salaries. The median salary is usually more than double that of the median salary of the total U.S. workforce.
Significant advances in technology have produced nearly half of all U.S. economic growth in the past years and continues to grow. By 2020, there will be more than half of the baby-boomer generation will retire, leaving all those professional science and technology jobs open for qualified candidates.
The advantages of taking on a STEM program for students are endless. STEM goes beyond the mere transfer of knowledge and academia. STEM engages students and equips them with critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills which in turn will create leaders for global change and innovation.