The STEM Crisis
In Our Economy
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education is essential to our environment, health, security, and economic competitiveness, and it is our obligation to empower future generations with the tools and knowledge they will need to solve the global problems they will inherit. Yet, according to the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the U.S. is not producing enough STEM undergraduate degrees to match the forecasted demand for STEM professionals. Lack of content competency and low interest in STEM are drivers of this workforce gap.
Why We Focus on Elementary and Middle School
- Social Pressure: Excelling at Science is often seen as ‘uncool’ by elementary and middle school students. This is especially common amongst young girls, in which this stigma persists and impacts the diversity in the STEM workforce pipeline.
- Teacher Preparedness: Many teachers feel anxious and unprepared to teach Science due to:
- Time Constraints: There is an emphasis on allocating time towards English Language Arts (ELA) and Math due to testing, and a lack of time to prepare and create a hands-on Science lesson.
- Staffing shortages: There is a shortage of elementary and middle school science teachers. Unfortunately, it is common that a physical education (PE) teacher is reallocated to teach Science.
- Out of date content: Science content is always being updated and classroom teachers feel anxious teaching content that has since been updated outside of the textbooks.
- Lack of Hands-on Labs: Students rarely have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning until they reach high school. By bringing hands-on STEM learning to elementary and middle school students, we are able to excite and engage students earlier in the pipeline and prepare them for more challenging high school courses.
- Lack of Parental Involvement: Parents struggle to find opportunities to extend students’ learning at home. Research shows that parental involvement and support, particularly in earlier years, boosts academic achievement.
- No Aspirational Role Models: Students in elementary and middle school rarely have the opportunity to interact with STEM professionals and role models outside of their doctor or dentist. This limits their understanding of exciting career opportunities in STEM.