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STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education

“[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…”

— President Barack Obama, March 23, 2015

The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.

Yet today, few American students pursue expertise in STEM fields—and we have an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects.


The need

All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow. But, right now, not enough of our youth have access to quality STEM learning opportunities and too few students see these disciplines as springboards for their careers.

Within a decade, American students must “move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, the average math and science literacy score of students in the U.S. is 481 and 497, respectively, in 2012. The average for all developed countries was 501 in mathematics and 511 in scientific literacy in the same year.

If the U.S. is to remain competitive internationally it must improve these scores – starting with increased access to quality STEM education that adheres to stricter standards. At the collegiate level, students have been hurt by the lack of consistency in STEM education, and success has lagged for these students. From 2003 to 2009, 28 percent of students beginning their bachelor’s degree chose a STEM major – more than any other bachelor’s degree category. However, by the spring of 2009, 48 percent of these students left STEM for other fields or dropped out of college without earning a degree.

Curious about more current stats please visit https://nsf.gov/nsb/sei/edTool/explore.html#primaryschool

To combat these inefficiencies that fail the students who are unprepared for classes at the college level, further early investment in STEM education by both government and the private sector, is required. America needs a workforce of skilled science and technology innovators to address our most pressing challenges and to provide a pathway to continued prosperity. It is not enough to make STEM education accessible; we must make sure it is of high quality to prepare students for challenges of the next century.

Here is where Young Engineers with the support from parents can come in and help our children build their tomorrow today– one lego brick at a time…