Encouraging Students to Explore STEM Related Studies
I have been reading a lot lately about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and how it plays a huge part in preparing for and succeeding in the kind of workforce our country needs.
Why it that kids is seem to lose interest in STEM related studies before they hit middle school? They are born natural problem-solvers, acting as mini-scientists – tasting, touching, building, and experimenting, as they explore the world around them. What happens over the course of a few short years that would cause a third of fourth graders to lose interest in science? And a few short years after that – research shows 50 percent of eight graders deem it irrelevant to their education or future plans. Science – irrelevant!? Really?!
A study by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2018, 8 million jobs in the U.S. economy will require a college degree in STEM. What happens if we don't have skilled workers to meet that demand?
Many well-known organizations recognize the impact this can have and are doing their part to help meet the growing need for skilled science and technology professionals in the United States. Organizations like the Girl Scouts are creating programs designed to allow students to discover how relevant STEM education is in their everyday life. There is also a STEM Education Coalition created to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs.
Even President Obama has spoken about the importance of STEM education:
"We've got to lift our game up when it comes to science, math, and technology," he said. "That's hopefully the greatest legacy I can have as President of the United States." In his 2011 State of the Union address in January, he said he wants the nation to prepare 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next 10 years.
What can parents do to encourage their kids to continue exploring STEM related studies?
- If you notice your child's interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, look into STEM related clubs or competitions available. Many local schools offer robotics clubs, invention contests and science bowls to their students.
- If they are old enough, encourage them to apply for a summer internship in a STEM related field.
- Most students find STEM related curriculum challenging, so if your child is struggling offer support and resources to help.
thinktanK¹² Blog: STEM
US News: CEOs Call for New STEM Standards
Girl Scouts: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)