May 16, 2024

Why STEM Education is a Must-Have in Your Curriculum

STEM education is one of the best ways to ensure that today’s students can adapt to a world changed by technology. ‍

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We’re currently living in an era marked by unprecedented technological and engineering advancements. Each day sees the release of a new device or program poised to change the world. This relentless pace of progress means that everyone has to work hard to keep up with the pace of progress. Especially today’s students and educators. 

A graphic with a circle showing various stem careers and jobs in Artificial Intelligence that require stem literacy and knowledge of coding

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education is one of the best ways to ensure that today’s students can adapt to a more knowledge-based economy in a world changed by technology. 

As the demand for jobs such as Generative AI Engineers and Software Developers increases, schools must implement high-quality STEM education or risk their students being left behind in the ever-changing job market. Without awareness of technology and its impact, students and educators can find themselves less financially stable or in career fields that could become obsolete in the future. 

Thankfully, integrated STEM education is more achievable than ever, thanks to organizations like Mastery Coding and high-quality curricula in computer science and game-based math, among other topics.   

The Demand for STEM Careers

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the number of STEM jobs will increase by about 10 percent by 2032. The entire field is growing rapidly, although not all STEM careers are as in-demand as others. 

Some of the fastest-growing fields include IT, cybersecurity, mechanical engineering, software development, and data collection and analysis. However, the breadth of STEM occupations is much broader, encompassing everything from agriculture to applied mathematics to climatology and game design

A graph from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that STEM occupations are projected to grow faster than other non-STEM occupations

As the world faces more challenges, companies and industries must turn to STEM-educated workers to help find solutions and fill positions. This puts pressure on today’s schools to produce graduates with industry-ready skills. Through project-based learning and hands-on activities, STEM education empowers students to think critically and creatively, preparing them to be workforce-ready, 

In fact, the need for STEM is so critical that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has a Directorate for STEM Education. This Directorate aims to improve STEM literacy by funding various programs in different STEM fields, as well as notifying educators of programs focused on technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

That said, not only is demand for these positions increasing, but the current talent pool is drying up. This means students engaged in a comprehensive STEM education program will be much better prepared than others, particularly in a competitive job market. 

The Benefits of Integrated STEM Education

Data from ZipRecruiter showing the average salary in California for STEM fields and STEM jobs to be at an average of $116,985 per year

With science and technology fueling the future, now is the best time to invest in STEM education programs. The primary benefits of these programs for students include: 

  • More In-Demand Job Skills - As the knowledge-based economy expands and changes, workers will be expected to know how to keep up. STEM education prepares students for careers in growing fields, allowing them to transition from school to the workforce much faster. 
  • Higher Paying Careers - According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for STEM jobs is over $100,000, while the median for non-STEM jobs is less than $50,000.
  • Meaningful Career Options - Many young people seek careers that offer value and meaning. STEM education equips students with the skills to make a tangible impact in various fields, from healthcare to environmental conservation.
  • Better Problem-Solving Skills - STEM is more than just rote memorization of facts and figures. STEM education can help improve students' critical and creative thinking skills. Students also develop the skills to approach and overcome tough problems, which can help them personally and professionally. 

In a broader sense, investing in STEM occupations helps build a stronger, more productive society. According to the Brookings Institute, economies with strong STEM programs are more innovative and have better employment rates than those without STEM education. 

A STEM curriculum creates a stronger foundation upon which society can thrive. As more students and young people become literate in STEM fields, they can help build a stronger, more resilient world around them. 

For school districts, focusing on STEM education can attract better funding and investment. Many STEM-based companies recognize the importance of developing future talent and actively contribute to educational programs. For example, tech giants like Google and Microsoft offer grants and resources through initiatives such as Google’s Code Next and Microsoft’s TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program. Companies like Intel and Boeing have also invested millions in STEM education partnerships to support curriculum development, teacher training, and student engagement. This support provides vital resources that enhance STEM learning experiences and prepare students for future careers.

Implementation Challenges of STEM Literacy In Schools

Image shows a an overwhelmed STEM teacher with his eyes closed with mathematics formulas floating in the air around him

While it’s easy to understand the value of high-quality STEM education, many schools are ill-equipped to develop a comprehensive curriculum. In many cases, the problems facing schools and educators include: 

  • Lack of Funding - Schools are often strapped for cash, meaning they can’t invest in expensive equipment or dedicated staff with specific skills. 
  • Lack of Time - In many schools, the emphasis on standardized test scores can limit the time and resources dedicated to exploring technology, engineering, and mathematics topics beyond the core curriculum. This often means that subjects like computer science and robotics may not receive the attention they deserve despite their importance in a well-rounded STEM education.
  • Lack of Organization - Even if a school district or an individual teacher want to implement a STEM curriculum, they may not know where to start or which resources to use. 
  • Lack of Interest - Some educators and students perceive STEM learning as overly complex or uninteresting. While STEM education encompasses a wide range of exciting and engaging activities beyond traditional math lectures, not everyone is aware of that. 
  • Lack of Experience - Some teachers might feel like they are unprepared for the implementation of a new STEM program or class. Without the help of subject matter experts or extensive professional development, a school might not have the qualified personnel needed to facilitate a more advanced curriculum.

This is where organizations like Mastery Coding can help alleviate some of the challenges, allowing schools and teachers to incorporate STEM education into the classroom. With a catalog of high-quality STEM courses, Mastery Coding can help schools to create better, more comprehensive learning programs and engage more students. 

See Mastery Coding's engaging, turn-key curricula

First, teachers don’t have to be technical or have any previous experience to use our curriculum. Since many teachers are not well-versed in programming or computer science, our subject-matter experts use a video-based approach, allowing the educator in the classroom to focus on supporting the students. With features like self-grading assessment embedded in our platform and extensive PD and ongoing support included free of charge, your teachers will feel supported and confident. 

Second, many of our courses use the excitement of video games and current technology to stimulate student engagement and promote ease of use. For example, our Gamer Math program helps reinforce elementary and middle school mathematics by explaining complex concepts in the context of popular video games. As students strengthen their math skills, they also get better at their favorite titles, such as Minecraft or Rocket League, because they see how math is used to play the game. Another example is our Game and App Development pathway, which allows students to build games and projects using real industry tools like Unity and Blender. We also have courses that use the appeal of organized Esports to teach students about careers in STEM and the gaming industry.  

Lastly, schools don’t have to invest in expensive STEM labs or engineering departments. Our STEM education curricula don’t require high-tech devices or equipment. Many courses can be completed with just a Chromebook or using your school's existing equipment. This means schools and districts don’t have to worry about going over budget or finding alternative funding sources. 

Building a STEM Workforce for the Future

A game designer and their coworker who are part of the stem workforce are looking at a screen with a game engine inerface

Although on-the-job training can help individuals learn technology, engineering, and mathematics, the best option is to focus on STEM education early on. Best of all, with engaging and easy-to-use programs like Mastery Coding, districts can support students across all grade bands. 

STEM education can start in elementary school, prioritizing digital citizenship and tech awareness. Courses like Computer Science Essentials contain lessons like “Building a Computer” and “Cybersafety,” with students diving deeper into each topic and learning more about the mathematics and engineering involved. 

Nonetheless, educators are the most valuable tools when creating a STEM workforce. Not only do they teach students the material, but they can also motivate students and imbue a lifelong passion for STEM. However, a high-quality STEM education curriculum and seamless implementation can often be the difference between a teacher feeling confident and supported or overwhelmed. 

Mastery Coding courses can also act as gateways to more comprehensive learning and college and career readiness later on. For example, once a school district sees the value of gamified STEM curricula at its middle schools, it can engage those students again with game design classes at the high school level, preparing them with professional portfolios of projects and industry certifications. 

Overall, there are no downsides and many reasons to invest in STEM education. If you’re interested in seeing a demo of Mastery Coding and any of the courses mentioned in the article, schedule a live demo with us today.

Authors

Peter oversees the creation and integration of the marketing department’s content, assets, ads, campaigns, and outreach. He has been with Mastery Coding from the very start and is here to use his marketing skills to make sure your school gets the positive attention and support it deserves.

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