The acronym STEM stands for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics”. STEM education emphasizes learning about these disciplines in a blended manner rather than in independent silos. In a STEM-focused classroom, the teacher regularly integrates all of these concepts during instruction. Students, in turn, often engage in collaborative, project-based exercises that focus on solving real-world problems.
The Importance of STEM
Research shows that a STEM curriculum fosters critical-thinking skills along with the ability to work collaboratively on project-based work. Having these skills is critical for academic success in high school, in college and beyond.
These same skills are in high demand in the workforce. For example:
- “Employment in [STEM] occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.” 1
- “More than 7 million jobs in the U.S. remain unfilled as employers struggle to find candidates with the right mix of skills, illustrating a misalignment between workforce supply and industry demands.” 2
- “The need for STEM workers is such that big companies such as Google, Apple and Ernst and Young are willing to consider workers without a traditional college degree as long as they can prove they have the required skills.” 3
- “Among those with some college education, the typical full-time, year-round STEM worker earns $54,745 while a similarly educated non-STEM worker earns $40,505, or 26% less. … Non-STEM workers with a master’s degree typically earn 26% less than STEM workers with similar education.” 4
Research also shows that the benefits of STEM education carry over to those who pursue careers outside of the STEM fields. For example, a Pew Research Center analysis found that non-STEM workers with a STEM college degree earn about 18% more than those with a non-STEM degree. 5