STEM field requires more participation

Published 7:38 am Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Next month, students from Picayune’s West Side Elementary School will travel to Biloxi to compete in the international SeaPerch competition.

In preparation for the competition, students built a remotely operated underwater vehicle, which they will be judged on in several categories. When students participate in these kinds of competitions, it provides them with a great outlet to gain experience in the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The United States is falling significantly behind other developed countries in regard to mathematics and science. Out of 71 countries that participated in the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment, the United States placed 38th in math and 24th in science. As a nation, many believe that the United States is not doing its part to raise a generation of students proficient in the STEM fields.

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According to an article by the Pew Research Center, only 13 percent of employed Americans work in STEM-related occupations. When interviewed, many responded that they did not pursue an education in STEM because it was too difficult or too expensive, among other things, the article states.

The fact that STEM fields are generally looked upon as “too difficult” is a problem for America. Our students need to feel that science and mathematics are fun from a young age. We could possibly achieve this by presenting puzzles that need to be solved rather than subjects that should be avoided.

According to data by the National Science Foundation, “in 2011, nearly 550,000 bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering fields were awarded in the United States, a 39 percent increase since 2001.” While this shows improvement, we have a long way to go to catch up with other major world powers. Unfortunately, out of all of the states listed, Mississippi ranked as one of the lowest for producing STEM graduates.

If the United States is going keep its place as a major world power, educational reforms need to be made. The best way to change the general view of STEM education is in the classroom by making these subjects fun, engaging and understandable.