Benefits of STEM Programs
According to the United States Department of Commerce, the growth of STEM-related jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) over the last 10 years was three times that of non-STEM fields. And while employment offers great motivation, it’s not the only reason STEM programs and curricula make sense for students. Putting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics together, rather than as separate instruction, may not be a Sputnik-like (the 1957 Soviet Satellite that first orbited earth) motivator, but students benefit as it certainly engages them in problem solving and finding solutions. Standardized testing on STEM as a whole, rather than as the separate disciplines may be a plan, too.
Today, STEM means creating learning environments that allow students to be more active. Whenever that happens, students are engaged in their own learning. There’s no manipulation in getting students active, either, it just happens. The outcome is that students better remember what they’ve learned when they are engaged in the process, and not passive by-standers.
Science and Math academies are not the only schools serving up STEM curricula anymore. Most schools today have some sort of STEM programs, and the numbers of STEM offerings are increasing. Because there is such a tie-in to real work environments, and to future employment possibilities, STEM programs are a natural for partnerships with community colleges and universities, as well as nearby corporations. All have more than a vested interest in local schools, education, and what students know, or need to know.
STEAM with the “A”
Some would prefer STEAM, with the “A” standing for the Arts. Most of STEM would be lost without the arts involved, so that makes a lot of sense, too. You can follow the STEM steps, but without adding the creativity of the arts you might end up with the same old thing every time, and how much fun would that be? There should be a lot of drawing and creative planning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics… and the Arts… maybe some dancing and humming, too!