Why the increased emphasis on STEM education?
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have traditionally been taught as isolated subjects in our schools. Though this does allow the school day to be neatly broken into several blocks, the STEM approach to education involves the idea of purposefully integrating all of these subjects together in the context of rigorous, authentic, real-life critical thinking and problem solving.
As the scientists, engineers, and mathematicians of tomorrow, students are expected to be proficient at asking questions, defining problems, obtaining and evaluating information, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, selecting appropriate tools, interpreting data, employing mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations, defending theses, designing solutions, and communicating all of this in both speech and writing. Education experts and industry leaders alike are rallying for this type of learning.
According to the National Science Foundation:
A well-prepared, innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is crucial to the Nation’s health and economy. Indeed, recent policy actions and reports have drawn attention to the opportunities and challenges inherent in increasing the number of highly qualified STEM graduates . . . Priorities include educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate populace.
Presently, and in the near future, young people seeking STEM careers will find more jobs available and at higher salaries. See, for example, this recent research report from the Pew Research Center, 6 facts about America’s STEM workforce, and this video on the need for engineers.
More so than ever before, girls are being encouraged to pursue STEM fields. Though directed specifically towards girls, the following linked page may be inspiring to anyone. Tips for Getting Girls Involved in STEM