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Why STEM? Success Starts With Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving Skills

STEM Education Coalition


Let’s consider how STEM effects what is closest and dearest to us—our children. STEM is their future—the technological age in which they live, their best career options, and their key to wise decisions. In 2009, the United States Department of Labor listed the ten most wanted employees. Eight of those employees were ones with degrees in the STEM fields: accounting, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information sciences and systems, computer engineering, civil engineering, and economics and finance. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while others are growing at 9.8%. Health care workers with associate degrees to doctors of medicine will average 20% more in life time earnings than peers with similar degrees in non-health care. A glance at 2010 starting salaries for engineers with $47,145 for civil engineers to $60,054 for chemical engineers is strong evidence that STEM related jobs can be financially rewarding careers for our children. 


Our educational system is tasked with preparing the next-generation to succeed in life. That’s a tall order and it will substantially fail if it doesn’t teach children how to think critically and solve problems. In a post entitled “ STEM Education: Why All the Fuss?,” I wrote, “Educating students in STEM subjects (if taught correctly) prepares students for life, regardless of the profession they choose to follow. Those subjects teach students how to think critically and how to solve problems — skills that can be used throughout life to help them get through tough times and take advantage of opportunities whenever they appear.”



Expert advice on effective STEM education for elementary school teachers     by Erin MacPherson's-elementary


The teacher said:   “I have a challenge for you today.  How fast can you make the marbles roll?”

Kids start rolling marbles across the sand, only to find the marbles quickly get stuck, hung up on miniature sand dunes.

Then one student tries putting his marble on a ruler.  It rolls much faster.

Then another props his ruler up on a cup and the marble flies.

The teacher watches quietly as the kids explore. Afterward, the teacher and her students gather on the rug to talk about their observations.  She asks:

“What did you design out of your tools that make the marble roll fastest?” 

“What do you think makes the marble slow down?”

“Why do you think the marble rolls faster on the ruler than in the sand?”

  • As of February 2012, more than half of the 30 fastest growing occupations require some level of post-secondary education.

  • All of the increase in employment over the past two decades has been among workers who have taken at least some college classes or who have associate or bachelor’s degrees – and mostly among workers with bachelor’s degrees.

  • The number of science and engineering  bachelor’s degree completions has grown by 19% from 2009 to 2013, compared with 9% growth for non-S&E disciplines.

  • Of the 15 Major Study categories, engineering has the highest median earnings, yet less than 20% of students choose a STEM path.

  • In 2008, 59 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy required post-secondary education. (Up from 28 percent in 1973)

  • By 2018, it is projected that 63 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy will require post-secondary education. 

  • By 2018, 92 percent of traditional STEM jobs will be for those with at least some post-secondary education and training.

  • 23 percent of STEM workers are women; however, women make up 48 percent of workers in all occupations.

  • In 2009, 12 percent of STEM workers were non-Hispanic black and Hispanic. But non-Hispanic black and Hispanic individuals accounted for 25 percent of overall employment.

  • Women received 29.6 percent of computer science B.A.’s in 1991, compared to 18.2 percent in 2010.

  • Jobs in computer systems design and related services, a field dependent on high-level math and problem-solving skills, are projected to grow 45 percent between 2008 and 2018.

  • The U.S. may be short as many as three million high-skilled workers by 2018.


STEM: It's Elementary!

by WeAreTeachers Staff


Why STEM Education Is Important For Everyone






Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—STEM, and therefore, STEM education—are vital to our future—the future of our country, the future of our region and the future of our children. Besides, STEM is everywhere; it shapes our everyday experiences.



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