Trends and movements come and go, but one that has remained a hot topic for some time now is STEM education and its importance in educating our future workforce. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education has received so much attention in the last decade that numerous research studies have been conducted to investigate the importance of STEM education on today’s students.
This article provides information that might be useful in writing a grant proposal to support STEM education. It also demonstrates how important the funding of STEM education is to our future.
Why STEM Education is Important
According to the National Science Resources Center (NSRC), “In 2005, for the first time, the United States lost its lead in world economic competitiveness and dropped to sixth place.” Additionally, NSRC offers several statistics that emphasize the U.S.’s general lack of proficiency in science. These statistics include:
- 68% of parents do not feel scientifically literate.
- 64% of elementary school teachers do not feel scientifically literate.
- In an international science test given to 21 different countries, U.S. 12th graders ranked 16th. Only 40% of the U.S. students taking that test understood the basic concepts.
NSRC, along with other groups and experts, contend that science and science-related fields of study are essential parts of students’ well-rounded development. Further, the shortage of engineers in the US has reached a critical stage.
Technology, many argue, is a new literacy in today’s world, and without being technologically literate, today’s students will be at a major disadvantage, not only throughout their schooling, but also as adults in a competitive workforce. However, American students are falling behind. Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, said, “When I compare our high schools to what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow.”
STEM Teaching Techniques
According to NSRC, research has shown that children who experience inquiry-based science education score higher on assessments and inquiry-based techniques have been effective in closing the widely discussed “achievement gap,” or the difference in scores between racial and socioeconomic groups of students. Inquiry-based teaching techniques have also been shown to increase student motivation and develop important workplace skills such as team work and problem solving. Known by a variety of names - inquiry-based, experiential and project-based to name a few - these teaching techniques are effective in a variety of disciplines and is well suited to teaching the STEM topics.
STEM Career Opportunities
The AT&T document “The Importance of STEM Education” states that STEM jobs are expected to grow by 17% over the next six years with approximately 2.8 million jobs available. Many STEM jobs, even high-paying ones, are currently unfilled because workers lack the necessary skills, training, or degrees. As a result, grant funds from a wide variety of foundations and governmental programs are available for STEM programs. For a list of some of these grant opportunities, please see our STEM Grant Opportunities page.
You may also wish to visit our Grants for Education page for a categorical listing of select grant opportunities in various areas. If you are interested in receiving free notifications on grant opportunities that might fit your needs, please sign up for our free grant Watch List.
Image Credit: RDECOM