Celebrating STEM/STEAM Day in Class
November 8 is STEM/STEAM Day, and it is an excellent opportunity to encourage your students to ask questions, connect the dots, problem solve, think creatively, and be innovative. Promoting STEM/STEAM when kids are at their most curious during their developmental years can drive a life-long passion.
Why encourage STEM/STEAM
1 – STEM is an economic driver and provides opportunity.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that STEM jobs may grow 8 percent in the next decade while other occupations may only grow by 3 percent; that’s over two times faster! According to Pew Research, STEM employment has grown 79 percent since 1990, whereas overall employment grew only 34 percent.
2 – STEM-related jobs pay exceptionally well.
The Education Commission of the States reports that the median earnings for STEM-related jobs are $38.85 an hour compared to $19.30 for all other occupations in the United States.
3 – STEM offers life-changing opportunities to underrepresented and underprivileged students.
Closing gender and racial gaps in STEM starts with nurturing the interests that many of these students already have at an early age.
- The National Girls Collaborative Project reports that while 74% of middle school girls express interest in STEM topics and careers, only 0.4% of high school girls choose to pursue them in college. And despite this interest, the NSF reported that male students (K-12) are more likely than female students to take engineering (3 to 1) and computer science courses (7 to 4).
- This low participation rate in STEM among girls could be attributed to how STEM is largely marketed to boys. In the 2019 STEM survey by Emerson, 2 of 3 US women said they were not encouraged to pursue a STEM career.
- Pew Research notes that both black and Latino workers are still underrepresented in STEM. Although black workers make up 11 percent of the US workforce, they only represent 9 percent of STEM workers. Similarly, Latino workers comprise 16 percent of the US workforce, but they only represent 7 percent of STEM workers.
Encouragement inspires invigoration, confidence, guidance, and accomplishment in students (ID Tech). Students can benefit when teachers play a role in encouraging students towards STEM.
4 Ways to Celebrate STEM/STEAM Day in the Classroom
1 – Project-based Learning
Incorporate STEM activities in class to foster ingenuity and creativity. These classroom activities encourage students to problem-solve in a setting where they are safe to make mistakes and learn, building confidence, risk tolerance, and teamwork. Here is a list of 36 Stem Project-based classroom activities.
The Douglas Stewart Co. offers these products that are great for classroom STEM activities:
- Flash Forge 3D Printer
- Flash Forge 3D Printing Curriculum
- Circuit Scribe Kits
- 3Doodler 3D Build and Play Kit
- HamiltonBuhl Studio Kits
2 – STEM Movie Night
Here are some movie suggestions that encourage and inspire STEM in students:
- Hidden Figures – The true story of a team of female African American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.
- Dream Big: Engineering Our World – Jeff Bridges narrates this intriguing documentary that looks into some of the most amazing engineering achievements across the world.
- Underwater Dreams – The story of how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrant workers use Home Depot parts to build an underwater robot and manage to defeat the engineering powerhouse MIT.
4 – Visit a Museum or have a virtual field trip
Museums instill a love for exploration and curiosity in students. If you can’t have an in-person experience, consider a virtual field trip where your students can explore the Smithsonian, visit Ellis Island, or see the Great Wall of China from the classroom.