- STEM education combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics to engage students in learning that requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- The number of STEM jobs is predicted to increase by 800,000 by the end of 2031.
- STEM education offers many benefits, including increased innovative thinking and preparation for high-demand careers.
As technology continues to advance worldwide, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has rapidly become a top priority in educational institutions across the U.S. Colleges and universities realize that equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in their STEM careers is more important now than ever. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs will exponentially grow over the next decade, resulting in an increase of nearly 800,000 jobs by 2031.
STEM education offers abundant opportunities for students to find jobs, with STEM career opportunities spanning many industries. The U.S. government and schools across the country have implemented programs to prepare students for these positions in the STEM workforce. The programs aim to train the next generation, build up the workforce and keep the country competitive in the world economy.
Below, we explain what is STEM education and why it is important, the benefits of STEM education and how it will help shape the future for generations to come.
What Is STEM Education?
STEM education is a multidisciplinary teaching and learning approach that combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM programs integrate these subjects to create a learning approach focused on engaging with the world, asking questions and applying these concepts to their lives. This approach helps equip students with the necessary skills needed to work through complex situations and decisions. In other words, STEM education equips students with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in today’s ever-changing society.
The Benefits of STEM Education
A STEM education provides many benefits for students looking to make STEM part of their future careers. A study from the Pew Research Center shows that individuals within STEM fields earn approximately 25% more than similarly educated non-STEM workers, regardless of the education level attained.
A higher income is just one of the many benefits associated with students who engage in STEM education. Other benefits include the following:
- Increased innovative thinking: Learning more about STEM promotes innovative thinking by encouraging students to approach modern problems with new ideas and experimentation.
- Curiosity and problem-solving: STEM education nurtures curiosity through problem-solving and inspires students to explore to find solutions to challenges.
- Collaboration and communication: STEM programs foster collaboration and communication through group-oriented projects and activities, promoting peer-to-peer working and learning.
- Acceptance of failure: Teaching the acceptance of failure as part of the learning process is a common component of the education process. Students become familiar with experiment failures and build confidence by persistently trying again to achieve success.
- Preparation for high-demand careers: This form of education prepares students for high-demand careers, with STEM fields often offering lucrative opportunities and competitive salaries.
- Confidence building: The experimental approach of STEM education helps students build confidence by actively engaging with hands-on projects and learning experiences.
- Practical application for future careers: STEM education provides practical knowledge and skills that prepare students for success in their future careers, equipping them with the tools needed to excel in STEM-related fields.
STEM Education in the U.S. Today
It is evident that the importance of STEM education in the U.S. is increasing and has drastically changed since its inception. It used to be a mere new way of learning. As aforementioned, schools worldwide now incorporate STEM education into their curriculum, as future generations will need it to succeed. This form of education has become a critical asset that prepares students to work through complex tasks and situations at hand.
The U.S. Department of Education offers many STEM-based programs for student learning. Its 2020 investment report shows that the Department gave out $141 million in new grants and $437 million to continue existing STEM projects.
Other organizations, including code.org, offer student-centric STEM programs. This organization is a nonprofit that helps schools provide computer science classes to students in K-12. The program specifically aims to educate young women in STEM, hoping they enter the STEM workforce, along with other underrepresented groups. Programs such as those offered by the U.S. Department of Education and code.org will help shape the future workforce through STEM education.
How Can STEM Education Shape the Future?
STEM education has the potential and power to completely transform the future ahead. As more programs are created, it will become routine for all students to get exposure to STEM education at an early age. Leaders and dealmakers like Robert F. Smith have worked to promote STEM education nationwide. Smith, for example, supports organizations like internXL, which helps match students of color with highly sought-after internships, including internships within the STEM field. In addition, Smith serves as the Chairman of Student Freedom Initiative to provide academic and financial support to students studying STEM subjects at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Together, these programs serve as valuable resources for students who are pursuing STEM-related careers.
Stay up to date with the latest from Smith and the importance of STEM education by following him on LinkedIn.