Why is STEM important in K-12 education?

In the ongoing quest to improve education around the globe, STEM has emerged as one of the leading ‘roads’ towards excellence. Driven by policy makers, education pundits, and teachers, the STEM train shows no signs of slowing down. Job forecasts identify huge increases in jobs requiring secondary and post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics over the coming years. Even by 2018, “there will be 230,000 unfilled positions requiring advanced STEM degrees, even if every U.S. STEM grad finds a job,” said David Chavern,  Chief Operations Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There’s a lot of talk about needing more college graduates and postgraduates with degrees in the STEM subjects, but in order to end up on that track, STEM needs to be a possibility for all K-12 students first. The handy infographic below highlights the importance of STEM in K-12 education, and offers some eye-opening statistics on STEM education in the US.

The importance of STEM in K-12 education

  •  The STEM unemployment rate in the US is 4.1%, compared with 8.9% overall
  • There are 13,000,000 unemployed workers in the US, yet 600,000 unfilled jobs due to too many candidates who lack the proper education for the jobs
  • Between  now and 2020, job growth prospects for STEM jobs are predicted to grow at a substantially higher rate than other jobs
  • The US ranks 6th in innovation-based competitiveness
  • The US ranks 11th in young adults who have graduated from high school
  • The US ranks 15th in science literacy among top students
  • The US ranks 28th in mathematics literacy among top students
  • 75% of US 8th graders are not proficient in mathematics when they finish the 8th grade
  • 38% say STEM is too challenging
  • 34% say they don’t know much about STEM
  • 28% said they are not well-prepared for further STEM education

Bringing STEM into K-12 curriculum

  • MEA’s -Model Eliciting Activities have 5 characteristics: model eliciting, open-ended, generalizable, realistic, self-assessable
  • Project Based Learning: Includes reflection, research, discovery, application, and communication
  • Hands on learning
  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussion and inquiry
  • Question and conjecture
  • Justification of thinking
  • Writing for reflection and problem solving
  • Use a problem solving approach
  • Integrate technology
  • Teach as a facilitator
  • Use assessment as part of instruction




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