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Why Teachers Can’t Ignore STEM Skills Any Longer

Why Teachers Can’t Ignore STEM Skills Any Longer

By Andy Larmand

Take a look into the classrooms of America and listen to the murmurs of parents, educators and students. It’s 2015—years after the introduction of basic technology for educational purposes in schools—and many of these people in the K-12 community are calling classroom tech integration a necessity.

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It’s no longer enough to know basic math or English. Students must always be polishing these skills and actively seeking creative ways to solve new and complex problems.

“The innovations and creativity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will be the drivers of tomorrow’s economy,” astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, said in an interview with CNN. “If you are not a participant on that frontier you will trail behind it and possibly get left behind entirely.”

Right now, there’s a need to lay this foundation of 21st century skills in school.

“Most people opt out of hard things. [These are] the people who said I’ll never need this math, [but] the act of having learned this math established a wiring in your brain that didn’t exist before and it’s the wiring in your brain that makes you a problem solver,” deGrasse says.

In today’s world, many of the careers that we consider to be viable, (profitable, sustainable) require one or more STEM-specific skills. As recently as the 1990’s, only 42 percent of U.S. adults said they used a computer at home or work, according to the Pew Research Center—that number grew to 81 percent in 2014.

Not to mention, 15 of the 20 fastest-growing careers currently require a background in math or science, according to the National Math and Science Initiative.

Discover the evidence that points to this integration as a critical aspect of 21st century education and learn how you can make it happen in your classroom or school.

More: 5 Ways to Become a Technology Risk-Taker in Your Classroom

STEM Skills to Teach for a Modern Workforce

The education world is responding to a major workforce shift and it’s no longer uncommon for five or six-year-olds to spend part of the school week tinkering with technology and creatively seeking answers to STEM-based problems, individually and in a group.

Group work builds necessary skills like collaboration and communication that will be important for succeeding in the current and future workforce. Actively acquiring these proficiencies before reaching junior high will help solidify their chances at success.

This information isn’t just assumptions or hearsay. According to an article from Fortune, 13 of the top 15 graduate degrees are directly related to STEM (highlighted in red) and only three of the 15 worst graduate degrees have traces of STEM connections.

(Source: http://fortune.com/2015/04/27/best-worst-graduate-degrees-jobs/)

(Source: http://fortune.com/2015/04/27/best-worst-graduate-degrees-jobs/)

Some chief abilities that employers require in their hires include analytical skills for research and development, science skills to break down complex systems, mathematic skills for precise calculations and technical skills for troubleshooting and repairing, according to iSeek.org.

Fields that are not entirely STEM-centered still require these traits in addition to the ever-important ability to present new ideas innovatively and creatively. They also stress the importance of communication, cooperation, leadership and organization, skills that are naturally honed while developing a STEM background through project-based learning.

Recognizing the Importance of STEM

stem jobs graphThe importance of a STEM education has intrigued the most powerful man in the world.

President Obama has invested around $170 million in improving STEM Education for American children and preparing them for the large expected growth in STEM jobs over the next five years.

That number is projected to increase by 33 percent before 2020 while jobs in all other fields are only expected to rise by 14 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education (graph source).

The $170 million investment will help facilitate district partnerships with colleges, train 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers, and be available to assist the nation’s top educators transition into school and community leaders to become STEM advocates.

This STEM skill development and creativity has become a necessary foundation for the eventual success of students. In fact, the number of engineering degrees alone grew from just under 250,000 in 2000 to more 350,000 in 2012, according to ScienceInsider and the average starting salary for a STEM graduate is $65,000 compared to $44,500 for other graduates, according to SSTI.

Bringing STEM in Your Classroom

Creativity is the base of all STEM skills, and is now considered not just an art but also a necessity. The transformation to a creativity-fueled, STEM culture is possibly the most significant thing a modern school can do for its students.

More: 8 Classroom Tools That Encourage Creativity

There are a number of ways to incorporate this into grade school classrooms and foster the creativity in the minds of children. Some of the most forward-thinking schools have students building their own robots, 3D printing their own tools, or working together to complete a QR code scavenger hunt.

However, teachers can take a more affordable approach and still be effective. Here are a few tools and websites that can bring STEM-based learning into your classroom.

Eduporium: For teachers or administrators looking to give STEM a shot, Eduporium is an excellent place to start. “We hand pick great products and collaborate with schools to offer them to parents and faculty at a discounted price,” according to Eduporium.com. Check out their online product store and blog.

Whooo’s Reading: Students learn how to use technology and collaborate with their peers through this simple, free reading platform. Learn more at Learn2Earn.org.

Consider how you can help students develop STEM skills in the classroom, whether you’re building robots or using simple tech tools. Your students need these skills to succeed in the modern workforce, and are relying on their teachers to learn them.

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  1. Pingback: How AAE Grants Can Bring Technology to Your Classroom | Learn2Earn Blog

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