Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Why pre-teens should consider STEM careers (Guest Post)

Greetings Everyone-
I am pleased to have a guest poster today. If you don't know much about "STEM", now is your chance to learn a little more about it.  Without further ado, here is the post:

Why pre-teens should consider STEM careers
Baseball may not be the first thing to come to your mind when you think of STEM careers, but the University of Arizona and the Arizona Diamondbacks see things differently.

Forming a program called the Science of Baseball, the two have developed a camp for middle schoolers, allowing them to integrate science with the fundamentals of baseball.

Not every STEM concept can translate and be explained in this kind of environment – but it's easy to see how a camp like this could easily spark a kid’s interest in math and science.

Building an Interest
Why is it important to have a young interest in math and science?

While middle school is still a long way off from college, many researchers believe this is exactly where students begin forming their self-perception.

If a 7th grader begins seeing a STEM career as a viable possibility, it makes it much more likely that they will choose the right electives when they get into high school. This can help set a path toward a rewarding and challenging college career.

On the other hand, if they decide in middle school that math and science are too boring, too difficult, or too time consuming, they may never come back to it. Building a solid STEM foundation in middle school is much easier than trying to play catch up in high school.

Not Enough Supply
According to a 2005 report by the Engineering Workforce Commission, the number of students acquiring engineering bachelor's degrees has declined nearly 20% over 20 years.

Another report by the Computing Research Association demonstrated that enrollment in college computer science classes had declined by 50%.

At the same time, jobs in the STEM fields continue to have the brightest outlooks, the lowest unemployment rates, and the highest income.

This is due to a variety of factors – one of which is undoubtedly the difficulty of the subjects – student interest remains too low to fill the demand. Because of this, employers fill what jobs they can with homegrown talent and look to other countries for help filling the rest.

Getting Their Interest
Of course, it's hard to persuade most middle school children to take this kind of problem seriously. To a kid in the 6th grade, landing a stable job after college is a lifetime away. Jump starting a career and starting a family seems even further.

So, telling a child at about the many benefits of going into a STEM profession may fall on deaf ears. However, that's not to say the cause is lost. There are many ways to get kids interested in math and science on their own terms.

Recently, Verizon sponsored an Innovative App contest for children in grades 6-12, hoping to foster creativity and ingenuity in math and science. Afterschool programs like Bricks4Kidz have introduced elementary and middle school children to the wonders of engineering and architecture in a hands-on setting.

The Future of STEM
According to a 2011 Georgetown University study, STEM is only behind healthcare when it comes to the fastest-growing occupational fields in the U.S.

 In a world where technology is quickly becoming an integral part of nearly every profession, a young man or woman without a basic STEM background will find themselves locked out. It may be difficult to see that as a middle school student, but a parent can't afford to miss the signs.

About the Author:
Elizabeth Phillips is a retired high school biology teacher from Philadelphia, PA. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys writing about education-related topics. She is a huge advocate of STEM education and enjoys instilling the importance of STEM in the minds of students of all ages.

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed this post. 
Mr. Hughes

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