The STEM Push

April 6, 2008

Education Week recently published a special edition of Technology Counts entitled STEM: The Push to Improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  While we mentioned the online resource last week, several articles from that merit special attention; we will be focusing on them throughout the next few posts.

In the article The Push to Improve STEM Education, the Education Week editors focus on how American schools need to stay current in new technologies if our country wants to be able to compete with other nations.

Now, this is not to say that there have not been great improvements in STEM standards over the past few decades.  For example, in 1983 only 15 states required that students take more than one year of high school, and 14 states only required one year of science.  Today, 30 states require at least three years of math and 35 states require 3 years of science – but is that enough?  According to this article, American students are still mediocre compared to students in similarly industrialized countries, and any improvements that our high schoolers were making are plateauing.

What can the United States do to improve its competitiveness in the STEM areas?  Education Week lists several possible solutions, such as setting higher standards for our teacher preparatory programs, encouraging high school students to take additional and/or more advanced STEM courses, financially supporting those individuals interested in STEM fields, and developing programs to encourage minority groups to get involved in STEM subjects.

Unfortunately these state and national change take time, especially when many of the highlighted programs must be passed by federal or state legislatures.  What are some ways that we can enhance our own students’ science, mathematics, and technology education NOW?