Who’s Driving STEM Education?
As a long-time global leader in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), American scientists and innovators have accomplished many extraordinary and once unimaginable feats. From Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb to Neil Armstrong’s famous first moonwalk, there is no shortage of contributions that America has made to the scientific community over the last two centuries. In recent years, however, America has begun to fall behind other developed countries in STEM fields.
According to a recent Pew Research report, Americans rank K-12 STEM education as average at best. Why is the U.S. falling behind in these subjects when other countries are forging ahead? One could point to a variety of reasons, but one thing is certain – companies serving K-12 are realizing that curriculum alone is not enough to help students gain and retain knowledge in these subjects.
Corporations, especially technology companies, are pooling resources to improve STEM education for elementary, middle school and high school students. The private sector has recently committed more than $300 million to STEM education, with companies like Facebook, Salesforce and Google pledging $50 million each to computer science programs. Amazon and General Motors have contributed to the funding as well, and other companies, such as GE and ExxonMobil, have supported STEM education through their own financial contributions.
The contributions don’t just stop at funding. Companies are also investing time and talent to improve STEM education. Apple and Microsoft have rolled out summer camps, workshops and day programs. Microsoft has introduced Hacking STEM, a collection of lesson plans and hands-on activities for K-12 teachers available on their website, and Lockheed Martin hosts a variety of programs and events encouraging K-12 STEM participation.
Since 1990, STEM occupations in the U.S. have increased 79%. Even companies that have traditionally operated outside of STEM fields have shown an increasing need for STEM-capable workers as they integrate technology into their systems and processes. As STEM becomes an integral part of our economy, the skills and qualifications needed are changing across all industries. Companies are partnering with education to ensure students are introduced to STEM at a young age and are best prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.
Who better to support STEM education than the industries that seek to benefit from the STEM workforce in the future? These companies recognize that the U.S. K-12 STEM curriculum is not adequately developing American youth to meet the future demand for STEM employees, and they are actively attempting to bridge the skill gap. In order to remain competitive in STEM fields, the U.S. is relying more and more on the partnerships evolving between companies and education. STEM education may start in the classroom, but leading technology and innovation companies are paving a new path for K-12 students to excel in these fields.