3 Trends In STEM Education You Need to Know About

computer and ruled paperJust like fashion or food, education follows trends and patterns.

These trends don’t change on a seasonal basis, like fashion, or depend on agricultural production, like food, but it’s certainly important to be aware of what’s happening in STEM education on a macro scale. From STEM to STEAM to everything in between, there’s been a general sort of curiosity about how best to implement STEM education in schools to maximize the benefits of teaching science, technology, engineering, and math.

Where did the term STEM even come from? You can read a full history here, but the idea is that the United States has struggled for decades to maintain an educational edge over other parts of the world. In fact, we’ve fallen behind in many areas despite education reform, renewed testing standards, and attempts to revitalize what we teach in schools.

Endeavor explains that in the 1990s, the National Science Foundation coined the term STEM to “embody the necessary integration of the subject areas necessary to achieve success. After years of research, we understand that subjects cannot and should not be taught in isolation, just as they do not exist in isolation in the workforce.”

So, it’s been almost two decades since the term was coined, and it seems as if for the most part, people no longer confuse STEM education with stem cells or stem research. Where is STEM now?

More Immigrants Pursuing STEM Careers: According to the National Science Foundation Report this month, not only are a growing number of immigrants pursuing careers in science and engineering, but a majority of immigrants are more likely to earn post-graduate degrees than U.S. citizens in STEM.

“If you look at the trends over time, you see an increase in immigrants’ presence,” says Katherine Hale, analyst for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. “Most of the international students in the STEM fields are coming from China and India. In each of those cultures, it’s strong to be an engineer or a doctor. I think the other part of the story is that we Americans need to do a better job about how to excite kids about science and math and not make it intimidating to them.”

STEM is Everywhere, and It’s Lucrative: Mashable reports that STEM and data-driven jobs are at the top of the list for lucrative career paths. When looking at the list of highest-paid jobs, many were tech-focused roles, like information technology directors. STEM industries are certainly transitioning from their traditional perception of being dull to more dynamic, appealing career paths: “Perhaps a career in ‘data migration analysis’ wouldn’t have interested much of anyone outside of a very niche, tech-savvy circle ten years ago, but today, data is the name of the game for anyone in fields ranging from computer science to marketing.

Sustainability is Key: Many industries are concerned with “going green” as a result of recent pushes towards environmentalism. Director of energy, sustainability architect, or carbon emissions analyst are positions that may have not even existed forty years ago, but are paramount for businesses of all sizes today.

Questions? Comments? Trends we missed? Leave them in the comments section below!

photo credit: Pencil and Paper via photopin (license)