An Editorial from Echo Press: Explore a Career Path Without Limits – Alexandria Echo Press
You may have seen the acronym STEM and wondered what it meant or if it was important.
It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
And yes, it is an extremely important field of study – one that will help define the future of the nation and whether the United States will be able to compete with other countries that are making inroads in these academic disciplines. .
STEM stands for innovation, problem solving and critical thinking.
But here’s the problem: not enough girls and women are choosing STEM as a career path. Imagine having this pool of talented young minds entering college only to have half of them, young girls, drop out of the field before they even graduate from high school.
As part of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, Brainly – the world’s largest online learning and homework community for parents, students and teachers – conducted a study to learn more about STEM. It revealed that girls’ interest in STEM subjects peaks in middle school (56%) and drops dramatically as their high school career comes to an end (40%).
“As the fastest growing segment of jobs, it’s clear that the future of STEM needs women,” the Brainly website points out.
So what is the solution ? Brainly parenting expert Patrick Quinn shared some tips for educators and parents. “Representation is important,” he said. “Do you know that when children are asked to draw a picture of a scientist or a mathematician, they almost universally draw men? Our girls don’t see themselves in STEM professions on a subconscious level, so we need to start teaching the women who are making waves in the STEM community.
Brainly encourages parents and educators to implement these steps to keep American girls engaged in STEM:
- Teaching about women in STEM. Look beyond Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein and start teaching children about personalities like computer programmer, mathematician, and rocket scientist Annie Easley; primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall; physicist and chemist Marie Sklodowska-Curie; chemist Edith Flanigen – and more. Giving girls a hero to identify with will increase their interest in STEM.
- Pique their interest. Share how STEM is linked to everyday life and how it can be used to solve the challenges of the future. Do you have children who like to cook? Learn the chemistry behind baking and how you produce an endothermic chemical reaction when baking a cake. Do your kids love to play video games? Encourage them to learn to code their own.
- Teachers can create engaging lesson plans and use different teaching formats. Did you know that girls tend to perform better on tests with open-ended answers? Use fewer multiple-choice questions in exams and incorporate more questions that cannot be answered with static answers.
- Extend learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Give parents and students ideas on how to continue STEM learning at home. Encourage students to explore STEM apps and textbooks or help other students struggling with STEM concepts. Host a “STEM Night” for families. Send students home with age-appropriate STEM cards.
Fortunately, schools and teachers in the Douglas County area know how important STEM is. Two examples:
Douglas County 4-H runs a STEM program and has sponsored robotics competitions that have had good participation from both boys and girls. At a robotics competition a few years ago, students discovered the long-term effects of space travel and built Lego robots to score points in a robot-themed game.
Alexandria Technical and Community College also supports STEM events, offering hands-on maker camps where students use the science, technology, engineering, and math skills they already have or are learning from instructors.
Careers in STEM fields are rewarding, innovative and exciting. The possibilities are as limitless as the imagination of creative and curious minds. More young girls – and women – should explore it.