I had the opportunity to speak at Indianapolis Rotary today about STEM education (around the children’s book I wrote for girls), which was an amazing experience. But being a science geek, I couldn’t resist conducting a little experiment with the audience, in order to explain what we are up against with training the next generations of young professionals about STEM education.
So, I took the slides/photos you see above with all corners of STEM, and broke them down into 4 different slides.
After showing the “S is for Science” slide, I asked those in the audience to stand up if they ever had the opportunity to take any of the courses listed on the slide either in high school, college or graduate school. Then, I went on to Technology…and again, asked those standing to remain standing if they took a computer science or tech class or sit down if they did not. We then went on to Engineering – we lost a bunch here who had to sit down. Finally, we ended upon Math.
Out of about 120 in the audience, guess how many were standing at the end – with all four boxes of STEM education checked for themselves?
Answer: around 6.
This is not good. This showed the audience today (myself included) what educators are up against in this new era of globalization. We are training a crop of future professionals in areas that we know little about ourselves (or had little formal training within during our own education). The educator in me is overwhelmed by the fact that we have to get all students on board in all 4 corners of STEM just to try and stay competitive with the rest of the world in the future. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to work in STEM. This is just a foundation we’re discussing here.
How might we do this? Well, I think there are a lot of answers here – some are better than others. But I do fundamentally believe that we’ve got to reach ALL students with all 4 corners of STEM, AND add on design thinking, entrepreneurship and the arts on top of it.
Other countries are figuring this out. So must we. Our future depends upon it.
(Oh, and had I played along with the experiment, I wouldn’t have made the final cut either – as I never had a formal tech nor engineering class, sadly.)