History of STEM
In the early 21st century a term was put forward – a way to refer to careers and/or curriculum associating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By then, these were the most rapidly growing industries in U.S.
The concept of STEM is not a new one, it has circulated between us for decades, in one form or another. However, its significance and potential are now being recognized by legislators and educational administrators around the globe.
STEM education was an initiative started by National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2001 with the aim to enhance critical thinking skills within the classroom to help students become problem solvers and eventually more marketable in the employment sector. The idea was to arouse interests in children by teaching them an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach that could help them in future to take up real world applications.
Historically, STEM concepts were being implemented in many aspects of business world. Engineering firms utilized STEM to produce revolutionary technologies such as tools and machinery. Some giant inventors such as Thomas Edison, who was only slightly educated; Henry Ford, who did not attend college- used STEM principles to produce some of the most prolific technologies in history and yet STEM education was virtually non-existent.
The evolution of STEM
We need to realize that STEM education is a result of historical events. Starting as early from Morrill Act of 1862– development of land grant universities, which primarily focused on agriculture training but soon incorporated engineering as well. As more and more land grants were established, STEM education training prevailed which finally assimilated into a workforce. World War II and the launch of Soviet Union’s Sputnik, further helped STEM education to grow and flourish. The technologies of World War II namely the atomic bomb, synthetic rubber, transportation vehicles for land and water proved that scientists, mathematicians and engineers could work hand in hand with the military to produce such exemplary innovations. In addition, Soviet Union was successful in launching its satellite Sputnik 1- orbited the earth in an hour and a half- a technological milestone resulting in space race between the US and Soviet Union.
How STEM helped save economies?
Traditionally, US has been a leader in STEM discipline. NSF states that the national technological innovation is in jeopardy. Moreover, US currently faces a worker shortage across all STEM disciplines.
The following stats sheds light on the current situation:
- Only 16% of high school students are interested in STEM career
- More than half of high school freshmen lose interest in STEM-related field before they even graduate
- By 2018, the need in STEM-related jobs is estimated to be 8.65million
- Shortage of skilled employees is significant in the manufacturing sector
In order to maintain a global position when it comes to STEM is education. It is critical for today’s children since they are bound to lead tomorrow. A country’s economic well-being is at risk without adequate STEM education. However, tremendous opportunity is out for those who have an interest and solid education in STEM.
Perhaps for the first time since the launch of Sputnik, educators broadly agree on the value of STEM education for ensuring a country’s edge in global economy.