Celebrating STEM/STEAM Day in Class

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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:

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.

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-10/why-computer-occupations-are-behind-strong-stem-employment-growth.htm

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/

https://vitalsigns.ecs.org/state/united-states/demand

https://ngcproject.org/blog/encouraging-girls-k-12-to-study-stem

https://nsf.gov/statistics/2016/nsb20161/#/

https://www.emerson.com/en-us/news/corporate/global-stem-survey-shows-growing-interest-in-careers-lack-of

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/

https://www.idtech.com/blog/benefits-of-encouragement

https://www.teachhub.com/classroom-activities/2020/05/virtual-field-trips-to-try-with-your-students/http://blog.futurefocusedlearning.net/36-stem-project-based-learning-activities

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