There has been an increasing focus on STEM both in k-12 classrooms and in college, but many are unaware of what this terminology stands for and why it is so important today. Read on, as STEM is likely to become more and more dominant in the economy of tomorrow.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
There has been a growing movement on college campuses across the country to get more students interested in STEM fields. This movement has trickled into the K-12 classrooms as well, to prepare young learners to choose college majors that will have the greatest benefit to themselves and society.
So, what exactly is behind this STEM movement and why is it on the forefront of so many people’s minds right now?
The Move Toward STEM Careers
The ultimate goal of STEM education is to immerse students in these subjects, starting at an early age and to encourage students to continue to study these areas in depth as they move through their later school years.
The purpose is to have a strong STEM background when they enter the jobs market, and the hope is that they will in turn, better the economy.
By the year 2020, the United States Department of Education is predicting the following: a 16% increase in mathematics jobs, 22% increase in computer analysis jobs, 32% increase in software development positions, a 35% increase in medical science positions and a whopping 62% increase in the field of biomedical engineering.
Those increases are a result of the overall shift in educational trends; trends that are now putting the spotlight on pursuing rigorous academic studies in STEM-related classes.
Furthermore, those increases will have a huge impact on the United States economy and the job market as a whole. Students who are looking for good-paying and competitive jobs will do well to prepare themselves to enter the STEM field. Even those who have no inclination toward math, science or technology will do well to familiarize themselves with the field by taking as many electives as possible in these subjects.
How the Focus on STEM has Changed Education
The emphasis on STEM in K-12 classroom and college classes has shifted the focus from teacher to student. The purpose of STEM, at its basic form, is to present a curriculum that focuses on problem-solving, exploratory learning, and discovery. By utilizing those skills, the teacher serves as a guide and the students are each actively engaged in finding a solution to whatever situation is put before them.
All students have the opportunity to truly benefit from a STEM program because it teaches independent thinking, innovation and discovery skills, and it gives each child a chance to explore greater depths of all of the subjects.
The skills of problem-solving, discovery and exploratory learning, not to mention the much-needed skills of collaboration and teamwork are skills that are essential in our global society.
Why All Students Should Consider a STEM Class
Not every student wants to become an engineer, but almost any student will benefit from ensuring they pursue at least one or two classes in the STEM field. Some examples of classes that benefit almost anyone are mathematics, statistics, and computer programming.
A familiarity with STEM is especially important for students who are persuing an education degree. K-12 curriculum has been heavily influenced by STEM programs, and this is likely to continue. Students who plan on being teachers should be well versed in STEM, how it is used in a classroom setting, and how it can be incorporated into other areas of the curriculum.
A STEM-based focus and way of thinking will enhance students to become leaders of tomorrow. Regardless of major almost all jobs today expect their employees to have a greater ability to think critically, work as a member of a team and independently and to bring creative and innovative insights to the table.
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