The Real Truth about STEM Classes
Imagine being able to use your newly acquired STEM skills in coding to digitally remix the music of one of your favorite artists. It’s not a dream. It happened to a group of high school students when Ciara visited a Norcross, Georgia STEM class. She not only critiqued some of the remixes, but she also validated how important STEM classes and learning how to code is in today’s world.
STEM classes are a top priority, not just in Georgia, but everywhere.
It may be hard to believe, but we’ve been teaching STEM education for nearly twenty years. Since its inception in 2001, the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has come a long way. In the beginning, the innovative approach to teaching these four disciplines was called SMET. U.S. National Science Foundations members eventually rearranged the letters, thereby creating STEM. Although STEM classes have become a banner for attracting inquisitive students, there’s more work to do in this field.
Not all schools offer STEM programs to their students. Funding the classes can strain the budget, and scheduling classes can be difficult.
The benefits of STEM classes
There are many benefits to students taking STEM classes. The integrated curriculum approach helps students understand how different disciplines are connected and support each other. Many students take on their STEM projects in makerspaces that inspire creativity and innovation. They have conducted real research and analyzed its results, created with 3D printers, and collaborated with subject matter experts in the field. STEM encourages hands-on learning in a team approach. This teamwork approach requires communication skills, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and a willingness to work for the good of the team, not just an individual.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics integration is not without surprises. In some instances, STEM has made great strides. In others, STEM has fallen woefully behind current trends.
Having a STEM background can be financially productive. A university degree in STEM is less costly than an engineering degree, but STEM students often earn more money annually than their non-STEM peers. In fact, STEM learners earn an average of $54,745 a year. Students without STEM experience earn $40,505 on average. Most of these earners are male; women hold only 15% of STEM jobs. Additionally, minorities like Black and Hispanics are historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Asians are over-represented.
The future of STEM
STEM is becoming a powerful industry and with good reason. This field is still growing and evolving. It is expected that STEM industries will produce nine million jobs by the year 2022.
Our task is to make sure that STEM attracts and retains diversity. Seeking out unique perspectives and attitudes regarding problem-solving is how we can disrupt learning and living to produce a better quality of life for everyone.
To prepare our students for a future in STEM, we require help from everyone: teachers, parents, and the community. It’s up to us to motivate, inspire, and encourage our children to participate in a future that is already here.