(Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math)
WHAT IS STEM?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. But STEM education is far more than just sticking those subject titles together. It’s a philosophy of education that embraces teaching skills and subjects in a way that resembles real life.
WHY IS STEM IMPORTANT?
Getting more young people engaged in STEM is essential in part because jobs in STEM continue to grow at rates double those of non-STEM professions. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
expects STEM occupations to grow by 8 percent between 2019 and 2029, compared to 3.4 percent for non-STEM occupations. Wages for STEM occupations are also much higher than for non-STEM occupations, meaning they provide financial security to individuals from all backgrounds and a pathway to financial independence for students from low-income communities.
Providing greater opportunities for STEM learning isn’t just about preparing the future workforce. As our world continues to rely more and more on technology, we all require a greater level of STEM literacy and fluency to understand how science and technology play a role. Greater STEM literacy also helps prepare students to better understand challenges and issues that affect them and their communities.
WHY STEM IN AFTERSCHOOL?
K-12 students spend just 20% of their 16 waking hours in school. More than 80% of their time is spent learning outside of school—at afterschool and summer programs, in libraries, museums, science centers, or at home or in the community.
All students need opportunities to engage in quality STEM learning experiences. These can take place across different informal environments, but over the last decade, programs have become a cornerstone in providing STEM learning for students from all backgrounds in all regions of the country. Afterschool and summer programs provide hands-on learning opportunities and a natural space for students to explore, learn, and grow. These programs spark students’ interest in STEM and computer science subjects, expose them to future careers, and support school-day learning, all while developing a new generation of problem solvers.
Whether piloting the next crewed mission to the Moon or helping solve the greatest challenges facing our country and world, students in afterschool programs today will soon be on the front lines, in the labs developing solutions, and applying their STEM knowledge to make informed decisions about the world around them. Working together with schools, businesses, community organizations, and informal science institutions, programs can help equip all young people to play a role in addressing our most pressing issues.