We hear a lot about STEM education lately. We know that America has been a bit behind in terms of science education compared to other countries. We also know that advancements in technology are creating more and more STEM-related jobs and careers. But many of us don’t realize just how essential STEM education is to the future of this country. Here are a few reasons why STEM education isn’t a nice to have, but a must-have for our country’s success.
Tech jobs are growing, right? Actually, they’re exploding. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center in an article online, “STEM-related jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs between 2000 and 2010.” That’s a lot of jobs. Which makes sense because, as a society, we’re not getting less high-tech. Driverless cars, AI, VR, robots, drones. That’s all happening now. And it’s all being taken to the next level. Just think of all the advancements in healthcare and other science-related industries such as cybersecurity. It’s mind-blowing. And yet, it’s probably nothing compared to what’s coming.
This is the crazy part. The reason why so many people from other countries are filling our high-tech jobs? We can’t. The Smithsonian Science Education Center says that “by 2018, it is projected that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled.” According to Dean Kamen and John Allen in their online article “This Program Can Make America’s Future Engineers Number One,” “America has the best universities, most innovative high-tech sectors, and best aerospace and medical innovation capabilities of any nation on Earth.” And yet, we’re “falling behind internationally, ranking twenty-ninth in math and twenty-second in science among industrialized nations in standardized testing.”
Obviously, we’ve got to get better at educating ourselves to fill the needs of the future. But what will get our society to think of STEM as an opportunity instead of an obligation?
iDTech.com – Why Is Stem Important?, thinks we need to get kids hooked early. “We shouldn’t be too shocked when researchers discover a powerful link between STEM and early childhood; and that by learning STEM skills early on, children are better prepared for school and future career.” One of the reasons for this link, according to Ryan, is that children are naturally curious. Ryan also says that “unless those inquisitive needs are met with things to play with and explore, that unbridled curiosity will either fade or simply won’t reach max levels.” Which is why early interactive experiences with science, such as the Cosmosphere Innovation Space, a Smithsonian-affiliated center at the new Bluhawk mixed-use development outside of Kansas City, can be a game-changer for kids. And for all of us.
We all know STEM is important. What we need to realize is that it’s critical.