The importance of STEM education isn’t a new topic, yet a lot of parents and pre-school teachers have no clue why their kids/students should engage in STEM learning programs. In this article, we go through the reasons why STEM education is important and give you tips to make it a success.
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The term was initially introduced in 2001 by the US National Foundation (NFS). This foundation previously used the terms “SMET” and “METS” in the 1990s but decided to go by STEM eventually. You may have also heard STEAM, which stands for STEM plus Arts.
What is STEM education?
STEM education or STEM learning refers to programs that are designed to help students gain skills required to succeed in the 21st-century job market. This includes a wide variety of soft skills: critical thinking, problem-solving, team-work, adaptability, creativity, digital literacy, and so on. Nonetheless, STEM is not a separate subject. It gathers these subjects into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. In fact, the importance of STEM education lies in the process through which kids learn these subjects and the skills we mentioned.
Why is STEM education important?
Nowadays, most careers require some amount of knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Even those you least expect. For example, psychologists need to learn data analysis in order to figure out what people are usually troubled with. The problem is that most students graduate without these skills and this doesn’t end here. Our communities need a well-trained workforce to fill job vacancies, boost the economy, and build the future. This is why STEM education is vital: it’s about being ready for university, job opportunities, and life.
Below we’ve explained the importance of STEM learning in separate parts.
1. Media and technology literacy
Media literacy refers to a person’s ability to have informed judgment on the content they receive from different media while technology literacy is one’s ability to adapt to new technologies rapidly as well as using them properly according to their needs. Technology and media literacy are interconnected. It means that technology has influenced the way we share information.
Two decades ago if you wanted to share the news with your loved ones about a job promotion, you had to pick up the phone, tell them in person, or write a letter. Now with the constant Internet access, you might share it on your social media accounts with a wider scope of people, even those you’re not that close to. Kids may eventually have the same access to these platforms despite parental controls. This is where the importance of STEM learning comes into view.
Although people acquire media and technology literacy over time, STEM education can help our children to get them sooner. To be precise, they need to learn how to process, discuss, check facts, and use the information they get from different sources while they’re still young.
2. Boosts soft skills
STEM education does teach soft skills in many cases. The truth is having only hard skills is not enough for getting a job or keeping it. In other words, a hiring manager will look for certain personality traits in a candidate. For example, adaptability and resilience, communication skills, critical thinking, and other skills that boost the productivity of an employee are the things that a recruiter seeks for. STEM education helps kids to develop these soft skills from early and middle childhood because it requires children to think through problems and find solutions.
During STEM projects kids need to interact with their team members, communicate their thoughts, and explore new ideas. Even when they’re working individually, the different parts of their brains are engaged which results in a better memory, improved cognitive skills, and overall brain health.
Check out the soft skills that kids acquire through coding.
3. Fosters curiosity
Another importance of STEM education is its ability to foster curiosity in children. It encourages them to develop more scientific questions that turn into investigations. Even if not all their questions transform into investigations, STEM education will help them to find some of their answers based on what they learn through lessons. By hooking children in with facts, encouraging questions, engaging them with real-world application, and developing autonomy we can be sure that STEM education will raise their curiosity.
4. The growing need for STEM workers
We can’t emphasize enough the growing need for STEM workers. Everyone can imagine the economic impact of giant companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, and so on. STEM workers power all of them. The United States only has to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025 but only about 1.5 million of these vacancies will be filled due to lack of skilled candidates in demand. It is an issue of supply and demand, right? So we need to arm our children with STEM learning resources to help them fill such openings.
5. STEM learning bridges the gender gap
Bridging the gender gap is not only a moral issue but also a way for economic prosperity. For example, Australia’s GDP would increase by 11% and gain 8$ billion by closing this gap. Moreover, doing this will lead to a less violent society by limiting men’s control of decision-making over women.
Currently, the problem for closing this gap is that women are far less likely to graduate with a STEM degree compared to men due to several reasons like exclusion, discrimination, discouragement, and coming from lower-income families. However, STEM education for all kids from early childhood is the first step to encourage girls to tackle this issue.
For more information read Coding For Girls: Things Parents Should Know.
6. STEM education helps children become future entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship and STEM learning go hand in hand. The soft skills that kids learn through STEM education are needed for becoming successful as an entrepreneur. To begin with, a successful entrepreneur has a strong desire for problem-solving and has other actionable skills. This is actually what makes STEM education enjoyable for students in the first place. Secondly, STEM learning resources provide practical skills for children to succeed in entrepreneurship. Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t build a fortune out of Facebook if he didn’t know how to code, right? He started learning to code with a private tutor at a very young age and became enabled to bring his imagination to life. This is what we’re doing at Embassy.Education. We offer different coding courses for kids that enable them to get the 21st-century skills they need.
7. STEM skills make children more recruitable
With today’s fast pace, our kids need to get ready for the jobs that aren’t on the radar yet. Who could have imagined that podcast producer or SEO specialist are real job titles 20 years ago? To do this, we need to teach children how to adapt to an ever-changing world. To think out of the box and develop 21st-century skills that recruiters look for even if our kids don’t want to pursue a career in the STEM field. This is another issue that is effectively addressed through STEM education: becoming more recruitable with the help of skill sets they get.
8. Higher Median Salary
Last but not least factor to point out about the importance of STEM education is the annual median salary that STEM workers benefit from. According to burning-glass.com, the average advertised salary for entry-level STEM jobs that require a bachelor’s degree is around 14000$ higher than non-STEM ones. For the sub-BA level, this amount decreases by 3000$. A good motivation for a lot of job seekers!
The essentials for making STEM education a success
There are some basic steps that parents and teachers can take to help their kids and students explore STEM education:
- Start early: Early exposure to STEM education has proved to be beneficial across the entire spectrum of learning. For example, early math knowledge results in later success in math and reading skills alike. The best time to start is pre-school age when kids are mentally and physically active.
- Engage kids in logical arguments: Raise problems and ask kids to find solutions based on their knowledge. These questions can be interesting STEM questions or anything that helps them explore careers early. Encourage your kids to engage in inquiry through asking and investigation.
- Use hands-on activities: There are simple science experiments that you can do together with things you can find at home. You can also take advantage of STEM learning resources, virtual museums, YouTube videos, zoos, science parks, and other sources of informal learning.
- Bring science to children’s daily lives: When you’re working around the house, cooking together, painting a wall, or driving, try to explain how science, technology, engineering, or math is being used.
- Teach often: Like reading and writing skills, STEM education needs practicing and reinforcement. If you’re a teacher, try to review the materials you taught every now and then and make sure you have included enough time and diverse material in your syllabus.
- Encourage kids to become scientists: Try to improve the image of STEM education as an interesting subject rather than something dull or tough. Explain how science and scientists have changed the world and encourage children to become one through STEM learning.
Teachers and parents play an important role in fostering curiosity in kids. Take advantage of this opportunity to encourage your children and students to engage in STEM education. Our societies need more engineers, scientists, and mathematicians to build the future and this won’t happen without valuing the importance of STEM in today’s world.
Editor: Michael Mitryakov | Writer: Negin P
Did you Like this article? Hit the button :)