What is STEM?
Familiar to those in education, STEM is an acronym for curriculum revolving around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In other words, students in STEM programs focus on these subjects more than others- taking their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math to higher levels than perhaps English, Arts, and more.
The initialism was developed in 2001 by Judith Ramaley, the Asst. Director of Education & Family Resource at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Since Ramaley’s finding, STEM-focused curricula have spread around the world. In fact, today’s high school graduates are some of the first to go through all of K-12 education with a focus on STEM.
However, just 15% of Americans pursue natural science degrees once reaching higher education. This is far less than in other nations. For example, 67% of Singaporeans pursue natural science undergraduate degrees, 50% of Chinese do the same, 47% of the French, and 38% of South Koreans.
More interestingly, America has seen nearly 2 million new STEM jobs created over the last decade. 86% of Americans believe that increasing STEM-trained workers is vital to maintaining the nation’s place in the global economy. While this is true, our students’ math and science scores continue to lag behind other nations. However, Americans students improved their international standing – according to PISA – from 2015 to 2018. In 2015, America’s 10th-grade students ranked 35th in math and 17th in science.
As technology grows, specific skills become obsolete. 2.4 million STEM-related positions went unfilled in 2018. Continue reading for more information on the rise of STEM in schools.