STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a curriculum centered on the idea of educating pupils in four specialized fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and practical manner. STEM blends the four disciplines into a holistic learning paradigm focused on real-world applications, rather than teaching them as separate and independent subjects.
Despite the fact that the United States has long been a leader in these subjects, fewer students have recently focused on them. Only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a STEM profession and have demonstrated math proficiency, according to the US Department of Education. According to a department website, approximately 28% of high school freshmen indicate an interest in a STEM-related field, but 57 percent of these kids will lose interest by the time they graduate.
As a response, the Obama administration launched the “Educate to Innovate” initiative in 2009 to encourage and motivate students to pursue careers in STEM fields. This effort also targets the scarcity of teachers who are qualified to teach these courses. The goal is to move American children from the middle of the pack in science and math to the front of the pack on a global scale.
The Committee on Stem Education (CoSTEM) is made up of thirteen organizations, including mission scientific agencies and the US Department of Education. CoSTEM is working to develop a joint national strategy for investing federal funds in K-12 STEM education, increasing public and youth STEM engagement, improving undergraduate STEM experiences, reaching underrepresented demographics in STEM fields, and designing better graduate education for the STEM workforce. The Department of Education now offers a variety of STEM-focused initiatives, such as research programs with a STEM focus, STEM grant selection processes, and general STEM education assistance programs.
The Obama administration’s 2014 budget allocates $3.1 billion to federal STEM education programs, a 6.7 percent increase over 2012. STEM instructors will be recruited and supported, and STEM-focused high schools will be supported through STEM Innovation Networks. In addition, the budget allocates funds to advanced education research programs in order to better comprehend next-generation learning technology.
STEM education’s significance
All of this effort is being made in order to meet demand. According to a report published on the website STEMconnector.org, 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs would be needed by 2018. Nearly 600,000 workers with the requisite skills are needed in the manufacturing industry, which is an alarming deficit. According to the estimate, between 2011 and 2015, the industry of cloud computing alone will have created 1.7 million jobs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2018, the majority of STEM jobs will be:
- 71 percent of the population works in the field of computing.
- 16 percent of traditional engineering
- Physical sciences account for 7% of the total.
- Life sciences account for 4% of the total.
- 2 percent mathematics
STEM occupations do not all necessitate a postsecondary education or even a college diploma. A bachelor’s degree or above is required for less than half of entry-level STEM occupations. According to the STEMconnect research, a four-year degree helps with compensation: the average advertised starting wage for entry-level STEM employment with a bachelor’s degree prerequisite was 26% more than those in non-STEM disciplines. There were 2.5 entry-level job listings for a bachelor’s degree recipient in a STEM field for every job advertising for a bachelor’s degree recipient in a non-STEM subject. This isn’t a problem that only exists in the United States. According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, the UK will need to graduate 100,000 STEM majors per year until 2020 merely to keep up with demand. Germany, according to the research, is short 210,000 people in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural science, and technology.
Learning that is a combination of traditional and non-traditional methods
The blended learning environment and demonstrating to students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life distinguish STEM from traditional science and math education. It focuses on real-world problem-solving applications and teaches pupils computational thinking. STEM education, as previously said, begins when pupils are very young:
Elementary school — STEM education focuses on introductory STEM courses as well as STEM field and occupation awareness. This first phase connects all four STEM topics by providing standards-based structured inquiry-based and real-world problem-based learning. The idea is to stimulate students’ attention so that they want to take the classes rather than being forced to. There’s also a focus on bridging the gap between in-school and out-of-school STEM learning options.
Middle school – Courses get harder and more challenging at this level. Students’ understanding of STEM disciplines and occupations, as well as the academic prerequisites of such fields, is still being pursued. This is where students, especially from underrepresented groups, begin their investigation of STEM-related vocations.
High school — The curriculum emphasizes the application of studies in a demanding and rigorous manner. STEM industries and occupations, as well as preparation for post-secondary education and employment, now have courses and pathways available. Bridging in-school and out-of-school STEM programs are becoming more important.
Much of the STEM curriculum is designed to appeal to marginalized groups. Female students, for example, are far less likely than male pupils to pursue a college major or career. Despite the fact that this isn’t a new phenomenon, the disparity is widening rapidly. Female students favor science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and marine biology, whereas male students prefer engineering and technology fields. According to the STEMconnect research, male students are three times more likely than female pupils to be interested in pursuing a STEM career. Asian kids have historically shown the greatest enthusiasm in STEM disciplines, regardless of ethnicity. Prior to 2001, African-American kids showed the second-highest degree of interest in STEM disciplines, after only Asian students. Since then, however, African-American interest in STEM has plummeted to levels far below those of any other minority. American Indian students are another ethnic group with a strong interest in STEM.