This year has been full of news and developments around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers and education. In general, the career prospects and earning potential for STEM jobs continue to show strong signs of growth. Demand for these skilled employees is prompting educators to find innovative ways to encourage students to engage with the challenges and rewards of these disciplines.
How Americans Feel About STEM Education
A fascinating Pew Research Center report released early in 2018 paints a helpful picture of attitudes and beliefs about STEM field education in the U.S.
According to highlights from the 158-page report:
- A combined 73 percent of respondents feel STEM education in the U.S. is either “average” (43%) or “below average” (30%).
- Compared with previous survey data from 2013, Americans are less likely to feel that STEM subjects need to be more emphasized in K-12 schools.
- The top reason adults in the U.S. feel that more students don’t pursue college degrees in the STEM fields is that, “They think these subjects are too hard” (52%). The second-biggest reason is that, “They think these subjects are not useful for their careers” (23%).
- More respondents (61%) felt that, “Parents are not involved in supporting school education in these subjects” was “A big problem” compared to any of the other problems or challenges named in the survey.
The Importance of Support for STEM Education
EVERFI is an education technology company that produces digital resources for STEM educators around the country. Their “STEM Connections” report includes information about the importance of developing what they call a “STEM context” in which: young students are encouraged to pursue STEM subjects by parents and teachers; they connect with or get to know someone personally who works in a STEM field; and they have teachers that help educate them about STEM career possibilities.
At the bottom of page 5 of their report, we find a remarkable graph that clearly paints the difference a strong STEM context makes for students. 93 percent of students in a strong STEM context will believe they “can do well in science and math if I try hard enough.” Only 43 of students in a weak STEM context hold that belief. 90 percent of students in a strong STEM context see that, “Science, technology, engineering, and math have real-world applications.” Just 37 percent of students in weak STEM contexts believe that.
IRCS: A Private Christian School STEM Program Growing For the Future
At Indian Rocks Christian School, we understand both the opportunities for our students that pursue STEM degrees and careers, and the challenges involved in helping them engage with these demanding courses of study. That is part of why we have cultivated such a renewed and expanded STEM emphasis, and we’re hoping to partner with interested, engaged parents in 2019.
It has been a huge year for news and growth in STEM studies at IRCS:
The middle and high school robotics clubs have been busy preparing for their first challenges at VEX Robotics competitions this month. Students learned coding and engineering skills needed to build robots that will perform automated and student-controlled tasks during the competition. The students love the challenges involved, and the STEM skills they are learning will propel many of them into gifted careers in these fields.
The students in our new Med Club learned a lot more about the careers that await them in the medical field when we visited St. Petersburg College’s Health Center and the National University of Health Sciences. Several alumni have also shared their time recently as guest speakers for this club of budding scientists and health care workers.
Our youngest STEM enthusiasts have been exploring aeronautics and “green” engineering. The creativity and excitement this has inspired in our second-through fifth-graders is a joy to witness. They love solving problems!
The plans for our new STEM facilities at IRCS are moving forward. Drafts of the renovations and expansion to the building are still being finalized with our architect, but will soon be delivered to the contractor. We are hopeful that construction will begin with the new year, in January or early February of 2019. Many generous donations to fund this project have already been received, but we are in need of more funds to cover the cost of this exciting new facility for our students. We are so grateful for all those who continue to give to this effort.
How You Can Partner With Us
Would you like to get involved? Contact Tracy Springman, our STEM Director. We are currently looking for partners who can:
- Be a judge for our middle and high school Science Fair in January
- Visit as guest speakers for our classes
- Allow our students to shadow you at work during the summer
- Recommend opportunities for field trips
- Become a STEM Sponsor with a tax-deductible donation
There is a lot more happening with our expanded STEM programming; these are just some of the highlights. To learn more or get involved, contact us today!