WHAT IS STEM?
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
WHY IS STEM EDUCATION IMPORTANT?
All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow. But, right now, not enough of our youth have access to quality STEM learning opportunities and too few students see these disciplines as springboards for their careers.expand/collapse
For example, we know that only 81 percent of Asian-American high school students and 71 percent of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics). The access to these courses for American Indian, Native-Alaskan, black, and Hispanic high school students are significantly worse. Children’s race, zip code, or socioeconomic status should never determine their STEM fluency. We must give all children the opportunity to be college-ready and to thrive in a modern STEM economy.
We also know that only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 29th in math and 22nd in science among industrialized nations. What’s more, a recent survey revealed that only 29 percent of Americans rated this country’s K-12 education in STEM subjects as above average or the best in the world. In our competitive global economy, this situation is unacceptable.