Top 5 Reasons Why STEM Education Is So Important in 2024
Why is STEM education so important in today’s world?
It has gained momentum within the last five years as the stats on STEM careers have proved promising.
With the average salary of STEM workers at $100,900, it’s no wonder that a recent study found 73% of parents advocate for more STEM learning in schools.
Yet underperforming schools and dropping literacy rates have parents wondering: is STEM a worthwhile investment?
Despite these challenges, the benefits of STEM are numerous. To help you make the right decision for your child, here are the top five reasons to embrace STEM learning at school and home.
Let’s dig in.
What is STEM and Why is it Important?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; all subjects permeate all aspects of our world.
Science is everywhere, in one shape or form. Technology grows by leaps and bounds daily. Math and engineering have built the America we have today.
STEM education is more than just teaching these subjects; it’s an interdisciplinary learning approach where students see how the principles they learn in school apply to real-world problems.
In today’s information-based and technology-driven society, it’s crucial to instill in our youth the love and wonder of these disciplines to help them thrive and succeed in the years to come.
The very nature of STEM means that while your students are being taught, they are simultaneously building other soft skills that will help them both in and out of the classroom.
Reason #1 STEM Teaches Critical Thinking
American students are used to taking multiple-choice tests with only one answer. STEM works entirely differently.
By teaching students the process of trial and error, they grow accustomed to looking at a problem from different angles and finding out which solution works best.
Previous activities and lessons serve as a knowledge base they can glean from to help them through the current obstacles- showing them how to use their past experiences to their full potential.
Critical thinking will not just help your student progress through grade school and college, but it’s one of the soft skills employers look for most in the ideal candidate.
Reason #2 STEM Teaches Teamwork
We live in a culture where individualism is celebrated and expected. Yet many aspects of life can be accomplished better in a community or team setting- that’s as true for school as it is for Corporate America.
STEM classes involve more teamwork than regular classes. Group activities mean children learn to communicate their ideas and talk their way out of personal conflicts. They will also learn to respect the ideas of others as well as how to compromise.
Furthermore, teamwork provides them room to give and receive feedback- all valuable skills to have as a functioning member of society and a leader in the workplace.
Reason #3 STEM Teaches Project Management
Technology and engineering courses in STEM often involve multi-step projects.
Whether building a bridge or a computer program, students have to complete complicated tasks over days, if not weeks.
While completing their creations, students learn how to break down complex, time-consuming tasks into smaller, more manageable steps to meet deadlines. Learning time management is a byproduct of fitting multiple projects into one busy school day.
Time management skills alone are worth their weight in gold, and breaking down complex tasks can translate into any aspect of life, resulting in a less stressed and more confident student.
Reason #4 STEM Teaches Resilience
Nothing like a falling popsicle bridge brings a student’s confidence down a peg.
But this type of activity often happens within the STEM setting.
Due to its natural exploratory nature, STEM forces students to try different solutions to a problem, resulting in various degrees of success. When an initial solution fails, they have to reframe their perspective and try another alternative- thus redefining how the student views and experiences failure.
The ability to cope with disappointment yet continue to build confidence in the young pupils, equipping them for many of life’s sticky situations.
Reason #5 STEM Integrates Well With Other Disciplines
Stretching the creative muscle in kids results from all the problem-solving activities in which they participate in STEM. Exercising this creativity in other environments quite nicely rounds out the STEM curriculum, which is why some schools include Art into their STEM program to create STEAM.
Art requires significant amounts of creativity, and it allows students the freedom to explore it in different ways.
Students can apply science principles to create colors and engineering to build art pieces. In exchange, they learn the nuances of design and esthetics, which they can use to add depth to their STEM projects.
Obstacles To Providing STEM
Even though the benefits of STEM are clear, its adoption has a few drawbacks.
First and foremost, there are no clear and clear guidelines for educators wanting to implement their STEM programs. Because many schools are compartmentalized, integrating all four disciplines is left up to the teacher teaching the subjects. Without guidelines, the program is dead before it even begins.
Secondly, there are currently no national standards for STEM education. Many teachers in the elementary school setting are not qualified to teach math or science, and while well-meaning, those who lead STEM programs are unsure of the quality of the instruction the students receive
What Can You Do To Encourage STEM?
The impact of a generation educated under the umbrella of STEM has implications for our nation and the world, which is why there are donors happily funding programs nationwide.
The National Science Foundation has provided two grants valued at 14 million dollars to build science labs and integrate computing curricula in schools. The Gates Foundation has provided the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Education Arcade with 3 million dollars to create games to teach students difficult-to-grasp concepts in math and science.
But there are things you can do too!
You can find age-appropriate activities to do with your child to encourage curiosity and passion for STEM. You can volunteer at a local school needing help with their STEM program or, better yet, become a certified STEM educator to help these programs get off the ground.
Our Future Starts with STEM
Our world is at a significant crossroads in history.
Not only do we possess impressive amounts of technology, but we also face life-altering problems, from climate change to food production and the overwhelming amount of plastic waste; our planet needs creative minds.
Although there are other issues to tackle in our schools, like literacy and math proficiency- STEM could be the missing ingredient to help resolve those issues.
Due to its exploratory nature and hands-on learning, students can’t help but be engaged and ignited by the possibility of solving real-world problems.
Not only could this mean an invigoration of other subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, but the soft skills they develop along the way are invaluable.
STEM is where our future takes off and where the leaders of tomorrow are built.
How will you encourage STEM in your school? Leave a comment below and let us know.