STEM, the acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is a much talked about topic these days. But given the worrisome fact that U.S. K-12 students and college graduates are rapidly falling behind their international peers in these subjects, all that “talk” clearly needs a lot more action. So OnlineSchools.org is attempting to help girls and boys of all ages reverse this trend with its guide to STEM support resources.
Perhaps the most startling contributing factor to lackluster STEM progress in the U.S. is the dearth of qualified teachers. National Academies found that LESS THAN 66 percent of middle school teachers are qualified to lead mathematics classes. Only 10 percent of physical science teachers hold a certificate or degree in the topics they are teaching.
Faced with all this, how are students who love science and math expected to succeed? Moreover, how will kids be inspired to pursue STEM subjects if their exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is limited, at best?
This is where the OnlineSchools.org guide comes in. It’s a comprehensive portal of STEM support resources that allows parents to seek out supplementary learning materials and outlets when their own school’s foundation is failing their kids.
Sally Roy, a researcher with OnlineSchools.org told WYSK, “We put this guide together to support students of all ages who love science and technology, but may not have the academic support to reach their full potential in the classroom.” She added, “With only 20% of college students feeling prepared to study in the STEM fields, the United States is falling further behind as a global leader in science and technology research and development. With increased support, perhaps our young adults can reverse this trend.”
The first section of the guide is designed for K-12 students and their parents and includes listings that identify some great resources for younger girls and boys who want to check out the world of STEM in after school programs, at camps and local science centers, via online games, as well as during college prep efforts.
The second portion of the guide is for prospective and current college students, focusing on STEM honors societies, mentorships, summer research and internship programs that can help prepare them for STEM-related careers.
For one, as the U.S. continues to fall behind in STEM, experts are worried about what this means for the future of the U.S. economy.
Secondly, these are important, rewarding and lucrative fields. According to Change the Equation, an education nonprofit, the amount of STEM positions will grow by 17 percent before 2018. Annual earnings for professionals in these fields is also much higher than for professionals in other fields. STEM bachelor’s degree holders earn 23 percent more than non-STEM graduates. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM bachelor’s degree holders make an average of $35.81 an hour, about $7.54 more than non-STEM bachelor’s degree holders.