As teachers, doing what we can now to blaze the trail for STEM education in the future will benefit our students and the world immeasurably. What benefits our students ultimately benefits both the present they are experiencing and the future they will inherit. (It’s great when everybody wins.)
This sentiment is echoed by eSchool News’s Laura Devaney in her article entitled 6 Ways to Bolster STEM Education for the Future. In it, she cites a remarkable report from AIR about STEM education and the vision for its progress, STEM 2026. The report pinpoints 6 main components of STEM education that will take center stage a few years from now and the challenges and opportunities they will present.
Courtney Tanenbaum is the principal author and researcher of this study. She reinforces the importance of recognizing the growth of STEM as an educational contender:
“A strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is becoming increasingly recognized as a key driver of opportunity, and data show the need for STEM knowledge and skills will grow and continue into the future … Graduates who have practical and relevant STEM precepts embedded into their educational experiences will be in high demand in all job sectors.”
The 6 Components of STEM Education Growth
In her article on this study, Devaney provided some interesting statistics about how STEM education will be valued in the near future:
” … analysts predict that over the next five years, major American companies will need to add to their workforce a total of nearly 1.6 million employees versed in STEM: 945,000 who possess basic STEM literacy and 635,000 who demonstrate advanced STEM knowledge … at least 20 percent of U.S. jobs require a high level of knowledge in at least one STEM field, according to the report.”
The 6 STEM Education Components identified in the study are summarized below.
- Engagement and networking between schools and professionals who can serve as STEM mentors.
- Learning activities and games to encourage high levels of creative expression and engage students in challenging STEM content.
- Interdisciplinary approaches that develop students’ ability to solve relevant real-world problems.
- Flexible and inclusive learning spaces and accessibility to necessary educational technology and resources.
- Innovative learning practices that focus on assessing core content while promoting lifelong learning mindsets and nurturing students’ unique individual strengths and talents.
- Societal and cultural diversity and opportunity in STEM education through a positive portrayal of those who excel in science “to counter stereotypes and mitigate biases that have historically prevented certain groups from fully participating in STEM fields.”