The Importance of STEM Education

Robyn Tellefsen | December 11, 2012

stem jobs science technology engineering math educationIn case you hadn’t heard, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs are the talk of the town – especially from the Commander in Chief himself.

As part of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign, in September 2010 President Obama launched Change the Equation, an effort to dramatically improve STEM education at all grade levels; inspire student appreciation and excitement for STEM, especially among women and underrepresented minorities; and achieve a sustained, national commitment to improving STEM education.

And Obama’s commitment to STEM education has not wavered. During his 2011 State of the Union address, Obama said he wanted to train 100,000 science and math teachers over the next decade. This year, the prez set the goal of graduating more students with STEM degrees – specifically, one million more in the next 10 years.

So it should come as no surprise that STEM careers are among the nation’s fastest-growing fields. According to a new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, employment in the STEM fields is expected to increase by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, and, in some subspecialties, that growth is projected to be up to 30 percent.

If you’re looking for job security, good pay, and work you can really sink your teeth into, STEM careers are the way to go. And there are quite a few schools out there that are leading the way in making STEM education accessible to everyone. (Check out these cutting-edge STEM programs at community colleges.)

For students who can’t make it to the Boston, MA, campus, Wheelock College offers an online master of science in education that focuses on STEM content for elementary teachers. The 30-credit program (of which 21 credits are STEM-oriented) advances math and science knowledge and breaks it down in pedagogical terms for teachers in those subject areas. Through this innovative program, Wheelock is underscoring the importance of instilling foundational STEM knowledge and skills in the early grades in order to foster long-term interest and higher-level study in STEM disciplines.

The University of Cincinnati (UC) is another school that emphasizes high-quality, accessible STEM education. Through its online master of education in curriculum and instruction science, technology, engineering, and math program, UC equips educators with the tools to integrate STEM concepts into all subject areas and improve the quality of K-12 education overall. The rigorous, comprehensive, 45-credit program (of which 21 credits are STEM-focused) prepares teachers with real-world, hands-on experience they can apply in their classrooms right away.

Though STEM fields have traditionally been male-dominated, female enrollment in STEM majors is on the rise. This fall, 11,388 women – or one in three female students – enrolled in STEM majors at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa. That’s a 13 percent increase from three years ago. According to university officials, outreach efforts directed to girls well before high school is credited for the boost in STEM interest.

When President Obama hosted more than 100 student science fair winners from around the country at the White House in February, he was sending a very clear communiqué to the nation: STEM education is vital.

Did you get the message?

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