STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas.
“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)
It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Ten year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant knowledge of mathematics or sciences.
- U.S. student achievement in mathematics and science is lagging behind students of Asia and Europe. International test scores tell us that in science U.S. eighth-graders were outperformed by eighth-grade students in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Estonia, Japan, Hungary, and Netherlands.
- In math, U.S. eighth-graders were outperformed by their peers in 14 countries: Singapore, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, Estonia, Hungary, Malaysia, Latvia, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, and Australia.
- The 2010 ACT College and Career Readiness report found only 29% of the tested 2010 graduates are considered college-ready in science and 43% are considered college-ready in math.
Increased commitment from businesses and other stakeholders that support STEM education is critical now, more than ever. STEM education creates the pipeline of future innovators that will move this country forward. Making STEM education a priority is important, for our nation’s short and long-term future.
by Francis Eberle, Ph.D., the executive director for the National Science Teachers Association.