In the world of education, STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is a shorthand that describes the importance that these subjects have gained for our young people.
There used to be a time when these subjects were just for geeks. When home computers and video games were new, they were only the enthusiasts and often dismissed by the mainstream. The subjects taught in school did not cover these topics, for understandable reasons. Only the most visionary or ambitious science fiction authors would have predicted the role that technology plays in our lives today.
The next STEM leader?
These subjects can no longer be regarded as purely for the enthusiast or the student who has dreams of being the next Jobs, Musk or Gates. Almost every aspect of our lives has embraced the latest technology and providing our young people with the necessary skills is vital.
While I was thinking about this article, I asked my 10-year-old son to think about STEM. Technology is a familiar subject for him – he is a member of an after-school club called Code Ninjas, which is teaching him how to write code and create his own software.
I asked him to think of the professions that need STEM as part of their jobs. We went through all of the obvious answers – scientist, computer programmer, teacher – and then I asked him about other jobs. Who would need to know something about STEM, even if their job isn’t in a technical field?
The fact is that almost everyone can benefit from exposure to STEM education. From nurses to lawyers, the extent to which technology has impacted our lives means that, whatever our career goals, we can always learn something that will help us in our professional lives.
The Importance of STEM in Real World Skills
The experience that my son is gaining whilst creating his computer games will help him to develop other skills that will help him later in life. Planning and forward-thinking, understanding and testing a solution objectively, and developing clearer communication skills will all be qualities that future employers will cherish.
We want to break the old-fashioned view that “tech is for geeks.” Technology can be fun for everyone, and there are plenty of ways to get involved. Typing “STEM toys” into a search engine will provide a wealth of Christmas ideas, and they don’t all need to be for the kids!
Here at Samtec, we are proud to be involved with a range of organizations that celebrate both the fun and the business opportunities that STEM provide can provide. Close to our headquarters in Southern Indiana, Maker 13 is a workshop that provides individuals and businesses access to tools, training, and knowledge. This could be the spark needed to create the next big thing, or it could enable a high school team to enter a robot competition. On the subject of robot teams, Samtec has sponsored the Phalanx Robotics team in their attempt to take the Battlebots competition by storm.
Get Involved in STEM
Technology has become such a key part of modern living that it is hard to remember life without it. As employers, colleagues and even parents, we should welcome the skills that technology is providing to the next generation. These young people are growing up as digital natives, with technology forming a seamless part of their experience. However, even for the older generations (of which I am clearly a member), STEM can still teach us new skills.
So, the next time a science show comes on television, or your daughter asks you to help with her math homework, embrace the opportunity and join in. You never know where the new experience will take you.