Why STEM Is Important In Today's Schools

What is STEM, and Why Are We Hearing So Much About It

Children with wind generator and light by a sunflower plant
Tomorrows Scientist Will Create New Solutions. Mischa Kejiser

 Our world is changing at a rate as quick as a lightning bolt hits.  New innovations reach the marketplace daily.  No one can predict what the future will bring, and exactly what the jobs are that will employ today's youth will be when they become adults.

Yet we do have a good idea of what academic skills today's youth will need for tomorrow's economy.  They will need a solid background in STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

     According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about a million new jobs are expected to be added to the US economy by 2022.  STEM job growth is expected to grow by 13% in the same period of time, compared to the expected 11%. STEM jobs also have better than average pay, with no sign on the horizon of STEM wages decreasing.  

STEM career fields include health and medicine, engineering and architecture, the natural sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics, and the computer and technology industry.  

Think about how much computers, technology and medicine have changed in the last fifteen years.  Fifteen years ago, dial-up internet was considered a high standard, cell phones were just beginning to marketed to everyday people, and many of the medicines available today weren't even being tested yet.  The change doesn't appear to be slowing down.  New advances in each STEM field promises to bring about even more change in our lives.


With each advance comes a series of new jobs to address the new products and services being used.  In addition to the people who develop these products there are also jobs created in marketing, packaging, distribution sales and customer services. New products and technologies are also changing the way we do jobs that have existed in the past.

 With all of this change it may seem challenging to know what we should be teaching today's children.  Fortunately, STEM itself offers up the answers.

Solid Understanding of Mathematics  

 Mathematics provides the basic foundational tools of measurement and calculation.  It is also an underlying skill to the various disciplines that make up STEM.  To be successful in STEM careers and the jobs of the   future it will be necessary to really understand mathematics and how to apply mathematics in real life situations.  This is why Common Core State Standards, the latest mass educational reform in the United States, has included an emphasis on understanding and applying mathematical knowledge.

Ability To Problem Solve

Developing and handling the new technologies of the future means that there will be a host of new situations arising continuously in different professions and fields.  All of this constant change will lead to situations where the new problems can't simply be solved by looking them up in a manual.

 Instead, actual problem-solving skills will be necessary for both development of new technologies and new processes in the way we work and live. The abilities to identify and define a problem an then come up with appropriate and creative solutions to the problems will be critical throughout a variety of professions in the workforce.

Reasoning and Communication Skills

Being able to clearly and correctly communicate technical information or new ideas will be a job skill that will be as valuable as being reliable and on time is today.  The ability to distinguish fact from opinion and evaluate a claim will be even more important in the future.  The amount of non fiction written information that today's workforce must read has increased ramatically in the last twenty years, and this trend of reading technical or specialized information in a variety of career fields is expected to continue to increase.  The ability to evaluate the quality of what is being read, or to be able to write a clear response will continue to become an increasingly valuable skill.

We can't just teach our children how to use the latest software that is available when they are young and going to school.  We can't just teach our children to use a math algorithm to solve one type of problem.  We can't just teach them to read and true that whatever they have read has already been evaluated to be of highest quality.  These skills won't help them in a  world that uses software applications that haven't been developed yet in a world of varying situations that require solving for mathematical variables that we haven't developed stock algorithms for and published materials will be made for more situations than we have encountered so far.  

By taking steps to make sure that all children today get a quality background in STEM skills, we give them the building block tools that will allow our children to succeed in a future that they will create.

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