Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) may not fall into the “favorite subject” category for most K-12 students, but they are important subjects to know as they prepare for the future.
Learn why STEM education is important and how to implement a successful STEM program in your school.
STEM Education Equips Students for the Future
According to the Office of Science and Technology and Policy, STEM jobs are projected to grow 1.7 times faster than other occupations between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices reports that STEM job holders earn higher wages and have lower unemployment rates.
This would be great news if schools adequately prepared students in these fields. But that’s not often the case. The STEM Education Coalition reports that only 30-45% of high school seniors were ready for college-level courses in math and science. And businesses have voiced their concerns about the supply of STEM workers to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
With all of the above in mind, it’s easy to see why a focus on STEM education is imperative. The STEM education initiative is designed to equip today’s students with greater STEM skills and prepare them for success in a global workforce and society.
Tips for a Successful STEM Program
Successful STEM programs include the following common techniques and characteristics:
- Teacher-led instruction combined with integrated technology in the classroom.
- Project- and lab-based learning environments for students.
- A student-centered learning model with strong leadership from teachers and support from parents.
- Teachers with professional training who are experts in their fields.
Resources for a Successful STEM Program
There are many ready-made STEM programs out there that can be easily incorporated into the classroom. Here’s a short list of some options.
- NMSI’s College Readiness Program – This comprehensive approach helps teachers deliver, and students succeed in, rigorous math and science courses. Involves training, teacher and student support, and uses incentives to encourage participation.
- CoderDojo – An open source, volunteer-led, global movement that provides free coding clubs for young people. Kids between 5 and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games, and more.
- LEGO Education – Through STEM-focused products and services, LEGO Education enables K-12 students to be active, creative, and collaborative solution-seekers. They offer a variety of solutions for every age level.
- FIRST Robotics – This nonprofit organization is devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for STEM. The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition.
- Kinetic City – Designed as an after-school science program, kids complete experiments, games, and projects in conjunction with the website. The more they play, the more standards-based science content they learn.
A quick internet search for “STEM programs” + grade level (or another key attribute) will result in a multitude of additional options. Any focus on STEM education will benefit students and schools alike.