Why STEM Now?There is a lot of fuss about STEM these days. And for good reason. Here's an excerpt from the September 22, 2011 STEM Memo to the School Board that explains the concern from some of the major source documents. For your convenience, I've also linked all of the documents that were referenced in the report.America now faces staggering global competition on almost every political and economic level. Indeed, “The danger exists that Americans may not know enough about science, technology, or mathematics to significantly contribute to, or fully benefit from, the knowledge-based society that is already taking shape around us.1”According to the authors of “America’s Perfect Storm”: Over the next 25 years or so…nearly half of the projected job growth will be concentrated in occupations associated with higher education and skill levels.2 It is estimated that 85% of current jobs and 90% of the fastest growing and best paying jobs now largely require post-secondary education.3 New international competitors in science and engineering are forcing the U.S. to consider coherent, proactive, and sustained efforts to identify and develop our Nation’s STEM education.There are several areas that are especially challenging and particularly relevant to primary and secondary schools: K-12 student preparation in science and mathematics, limited undergraduate interest in science and engineering majors, and significant student attrition among science and engineering undergraduate and graduate programs.4
1Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (page 94). http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11463.html.
2America’s Perfect Storm. Educational Testing Service. Princeton 2007. http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/AmericasPerfectStorm.pdf
3High School Teaching for the Twenty-First Century: Preparing Students for College. Alliance for Excellent Education. September 2007 Issue Brief. http://www.a114ed.org/files/HSTeach21st.pdf
4Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (page 94). http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11463.html.5Why straight-A's may not get you into UW this year. Long, K. Seattle Times. April 4, 2011. http://o.seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014670294_admissions03m.html