What is STEM and Why is it Important?
National STEM Day is a national holiday intended to celebrate the advancements made in our education systems. The goal is to encourage students to reach for the stars and to better identify their passion.
Let’s start from the basics: What does STEM stand for?
- S – Science
- T – Technology
- E – Engineering
- M – Mathematics
STEM education incorporates these four main disciplines of study into a cohesive curriculum plan through hands-on experiments and interactive learning. It encourages students to develop critical thinking skills, science literacy, and innovation. Inevitably, innovation leads to new products, new ideas, and new processes to only further our growth and sustainability.
STEM is important because it is present in every aspect of our daily lives. Science is everywhere and constantly surrounding us. The composition of the air we breathe, the earth we walk on, biological & medical advancements, etc. – It’s all science!
Tech is constantly changing and evolving. Take, for example, the newly released iPhone or Tesla’s self-driving vehicles. Products we never thought we’d have, we do; in fact, most of us can’t even live without our cell phones. Technological advancements are inevitable; why not teach our students to interact and thrive using technology?
The basic designs of roads, bridges, buildings, cars, etc. are essential to our day-to-day lives and are all fundamentals of engineering. Creating curriculum and real-world experiences that enable students to learn and practice engineering skills is crucial to the STEM philosophy.
And finally, Mathematics
It is in every occupation and every daily activity we encounter. From tipping at a restaurant to using physics while investigating a car crash, the use of math is unavoidable.
Where is STEM being implemented?
STEM education is typically broken down into 4 categories: elementary (K-5), middle school (6-8), high school (9-12), and higher education. STEM curriculum in elementary schools sparks the initial interest among students and introduces them to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with classroom activities. Middle school education dives a little deeper and starts to develop a level of critical thinking while combining their knowledge of all four disciplines. High school courses allow students to explore their passions and interests with real-life classroom activities that only further helps them to define their career path.
Additionally, there are many organizations that actively support and initiate STEM programs. To name a few:
- The STEM Alliance
- Siemens STEM Day
- STEM Education Coalition
- Society of Women Engineers
- US Department of Education
With such a focus on education from an early age, it’s no surprise that the number of STEM-related occupations has been expanding. In fact, they are even projected to grow by 13%, reaching new heights by the year 2022.
Like most careers, STEM work requires a bachelor’s degree or more. However, students entering college typically feel lost or confused with what they want to pursue. Exposing children to STEM careers and activities throughout their education helps to make better, more informed career choices.
National STEM DAY – November 8, 2017
National STEM Day took place last week on November 8, 2017 but we think that STEM should be recognized much more often than just one day out of the year!
Why does all this matter? Companies and organizations all around us are looking for smart, talented individuals to bring new ideas to their firm. STEM matters because it teaches skills used in our everyday lives to tap into an individual’s potential. Such skills encourage creativity and critical thinking skills.
We encourage you to tap into your skills and celebrate STEM on a regular basis!
- Take 15 minutes to reflect. Is there something that you can improve on? Is there an idea that you’ve been waiting to try but just haven’t yet? Try tackling it!
- Research the history of STEM and learn about where the program(s) came from and where they’re going.
- Give back and get involved with a local STEM organization in your town.
- Or, take some family time and do some fun experiments.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating continuous education and a better tomorrow!
For STEM gift ideas for your kids, click here!
To learn more about STEM education and programs or how to get your program accredited, please visit www.stem.org.