The Importance of STEM in Education
The term “STEM” short for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” is being increasingly used in Education. This term finds use when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.
Many might be lulled into thinking that STEM skills aren’t important because there are thousands of jobs not directly associated with these skills. After all, not everyone is an Engineer, Doctor or Computer Programmer. There are hospitality professionals, those in Supply Chain, Agriculture etc., and at times a direct linkage is missed. After all 65% of India’s labor force is in Agriculture alone, one might be tempted to not give it the importance it is due.
However, with the fast-changing world; just look at how we interact today; and you would realize that no area is untouched without the use of some form of technology. Even seeds are GM (Genetically Modified) today and initiatives like “e-Choupal” by private companies to link directly with rural farmers via the Internet for procurement of agricultural and aquaculture products like soybeans, wheat, coffee, and prawns impacts those engaged in agriculture.
The implications for workforce development from the “STEM” perspective is huge. Changing times require a greater understanding of quantitative skills and the ability to manipulate data.
“Students need to be able to make a decision not just based on what they think or feel, but on scientific data that supports the best solution. Everyone needs to know how to do this. It doesn’t matter whether you go on to a career in STEM or not—you need to know how to use data to make informed decisions in your life.”—Stacy Klein-Gardner, director of Center for STEM Education for Girls at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Some of the basic areas touched by STEM:
- Need to maintain accuracy in record-keeping and communicate findings.
- Research and Development. Research topics and determine good, reliable sources of information.
- Marketing, Sales and Business Development. Recognize cause and effect relationships and distinguish fact and opinion.
- Architecture, and the construction industry. Use mathematical skills for calculations and measurements.
- Any field involving any machine. Read and understand technical materials.
- Telecom and Communications.
- Agriculture. New Technologies impacting produce, storage, planning and distribution.
- Power and Electricity. Production from Mining to generation, distribution and collection.
- Hospitality. Science is toady being used in the creation of dishes, hotel management, travel and leisure planning.
Ultimately, it’s all about skills.
“What binds together the STEM movement is the notion of modern skills. Employers talk about problem-solving. Society requires problem-solving. Doing your taxes requires problem-solving. Those are the types of skills that really matter. A practicing engineer will tell you, ‘I didn’t use the calculus I learned to solve problems on paper, but the way it taught me to solve problems and to think about problems was really important.’” —James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C.