You might have heard the term STEM mentioned lately.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These are areas of expertise considered to be critical to our community and our country’s future. However, we face a STEM crisis.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, innovation, largely derived from advances in science and engineering, is a primary driver of the future economy and creation of jobs. However, the percentage of science and engineering degrees awarded annually peaked in the 1960's. In Central Florida, we actually lag behind. Only 20% of the degrees awarded in Central Florida are in the STEM fields, compared to 30% nationally.
Things aren’t much better on the middle or high school levels. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 93% of U.S. public school students in 5 - 8 grade are taught physical sciences by a teacher without a degree or certificate in the physical sciences. In high school, Florida students ranked 42nd in math and 49th in science in the nation on the 2011 ACT.
In an increasingly competitive world, where innovation is the key to a flourishing economy, the need for us to educate ourselves and our children in STEM fields is more pressing than ever.
Orlando Science Center is taking a stand in the efforts to revitalize STEM education in our community. Whether you encounter us here in the facility with your family, with your Scout organization, on a field trip, or even through one of our off-site school programs, our goal is the same – to show people that exploring these critical areas in an informal way can be fun, exciting and even inspiring.
Our hope is that you’ll take the things you discovered as a result of your time with us and use them as a springboard to explore at home and in school too. Our ultimate goal is to create a STEM-centered community that paves the way towards excellence in science, technology, engineering and math.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey!
27 June 2012
Posted in Our STEM Crisis
You say you’re not a "science person”? That’s okay, many people feel the same way. They’re wrong though, and so are you. Granted, you might not be a physicist or a physician, you might not have even passed biology in middle school. But you are a science person. I know this because you don’t have a choice.
Science is all around us. It might not be as apparent in some places as it is in others, but it is everywhere. Think about the rush of technology and what you have to understand now that you couldn’t fathom before. Or, the advances in medicine that will help us live longer and healthier than we ever dreamed possible. Consider the fact that, not too long ago, a cross-country flight was a big deal. Today, commercial companies are travelling into space.
Think about the questions you ask – or better still, the questions your children ask. Think about the look of amazement in their eyes when they discover something new. The questions that they ask, the way they find the answers, science is right next to you.
As we move further into uncertain times, with no real firm answers in sight, one thing is for sure… science matters and will matter more than ever. Here’s the exciting news though, science is right next to you, asking those questions, exploring new things. And some day, they’ll be the ones with the answers.
So, your science homework for tonight is not to keep science at arm’s length. Embrace it. Set an example for it. After all, you are a science person.