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Is This Novel Boost for STEM Education in the U.S. Sustainable?
By Michael Valentine Posted:January 26, 2013 0 Comments
It's disheartening to realize that America is lagging in its role as the engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation. What will be the role of our next generation of innovators if U.S. eight-grade students continue to trail behind countries like Singapore, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Chinese Taipei, etc in science and mathematics feat? This forms the basis on why South Korea graduates more engineers than the United States; China graduates 10 times as many as America. According to Charles Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering, 21 percent of graduates from Asian countries are engineers; Europe has 12 percent and America has only 4.5 percent.

It appears after this realization that stakeholders of STEM Education have embarked upon a broad stakeholder engagement with a holistic view. Thus, it becomes imperative STEM Education is taken as a priority for advancing the vast opportunities inherent in this learning. The question is: how sustainable is this effort towards a better science, technology, engineering and math in the United State?

For better appreciation, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education is education towards equipping students in competencies and skills in the aforementioned disciplines. STEM education enhances science literacy by grooming critical thinkers and future generation of inventors. This is a vibrant way of building and sustaining our economy for the United States in the near future.

This is more necessary now than any other time since most future jobs will require basic and full understanding of science and mathematics. To lend credence to this, a report of the U.S. Department of Labor shows that over seventy percent of twenty of the fastest growing occupations projected for 2014 require sound knowledge of science and mathematics.

I believe realization of this untapped opportunity prompted stakeholders' interest to invest in STEM Education. One boost to this endeavor is President Obama's declaration of the need to support and enhance students' achievement in science and mathematics and to develop this aspect of learning along with its prospects. Specially to un-represented groups while taking account of women.

As foundation to Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign, which involves public and private partnership with companies, universities, non-profit organizations and foundations, STEM Education was created to revitalize and boost America to the top of the pack in Mathematics and science in the future. Thus, increasing STEM literacy so that all students would have the chance for deep learning and critical thinking in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

There's no doubt that there are broad stakeholders for this initiative - National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), a teacher-driven attempt to build support for local communities between STEM teachers and professionals as well as STEM Education coalition.

Despite this overwhelming group of interested parties coming together to partner and boost the chances of America and to reclaim its position as the engine of scientific discovery, there's a challenge of ill-motivated teachers. Jim Simons, Founder of Math for America, said this challenge could be tackled with higher pay and better working conditions. He equally proposed bonuses and stipends for high school STEM teachers.

Truth be told, if this effort towards STEM Education is sustainable, the stakeholders will need to develop strategies that will shape both system and faculty. Finding has shown that STEM will change the agents focus and their efforts by changing individual faculties through varying means of dissemination and persuasion.

I would suggest if dissemination of activities is focused on understanding the local teaching environment and how the learning environment impacts instructors' ability and inclination to be innovative, the chances of establishing a sustainable STEM Education will be realized.