What is STEM? Why is it important?

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STEM stands for  Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. Here are some statistics about Americans and the STEM fields of today and tomorrow.

  • Several reports have linked K-12 STEM Education to continued scientific leadership and economic growth in the US.
  • According to NAEP, (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/) roughly 75% of US 8th graders are not proficient in mathematics when they complete the 8th grade.
  • Employers in many industries lament that job applicants lack the needed mathematics, computer, and problem-solving skills to succeed.
  • International students fill an increasing portion of elite STEM positions in the US.
  • China and India, in Dec 2009, provided 47% of the approximately 248,000 foreign science and engineering graduate students in the US.
  • The talent pool to US employers is diminishing and will be a significant problem in the next 20 years if the condition of STEM education does not change in the US.

In simple terms, this means…

Our students are not learning the STEM ideas they should be by the time they exit our K-12 educational system. They are not choosing to pursue STEM careers. (We will address some specific STEM careers in future blogs) And with the 21st century job market demanding more STEM skills, they will not be employable.

This paints a dismal future both for our children and for the job market. With fewer individuals interested and trained for STEM careers, we will have businesses moving overseas as well as other countries making technological advances quicker than us.  This speculation of a jeopardized economic sustainability has led many American leaders to commission numerous research projects and reports addressing STEM education in the US.  (see attached)

Ask your child, today, what they are learning in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. I think you may be surprised by the answer.

(All data from the article “Successful K-12 STEM Education” by the National Academies Press)

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