Why STEM Subjects Are More Important Now Than Ever
By Jenna Blair
Increasing globalization and digitization in the modern world have caused a higher demand for skilled workers in STEM jobs and careers. At a time when cryptocurrencies are turning the world of finance on its head, virtual reality or VR is being utilized by core industries in both work and training, and the Internet of Things is taking over our personal and professional lives, it’s more crucial than ever that students going into the workforce have a flexible working knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
This is why students in K-12 need to be encouraged towards taking STEM subjects. Children who pick up STEM-related knowledge early on will have a much higher chance of thriving in our increasingly technology-driven world. For instance, understanding cryptocurrency and its impact on global finance require a combination of all STEM academic disciplines. This is especially relevant today considering the developments in the cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses. The CCN reports that cryptocurrency exchange companies are planning on physically relocating to the European nation of Malta for its recent cryptocurrency-friendly stance and legislation. In a nutshell, this could mean that despite recent pitfalls, cryptocurrencies will continue to be a global phenomenon, and it’s something that our K-12-produced workforce should be ready for.
Meanwhile, both VR and virtual training are becoming mainstays in an increasing number of core industries. For instance, in the field of medicine alone, several of the most recent developments come directly from these new technologies. Long-distance video conferencing has made it possible for specialists to advise medics and doctors working on surgeries elsewhere in the world. Psychiatrists at the University of Louisville are using VR alongside cognitive behavioral therapy in treating phobias and social anxieties. In the field of education, both VR and virtual training have endless potential in terms of technical instruction, connectivity, new and immersive means of education, and the streamlining of research.
All of these technical applications of new technologies have one thing in common – the expertise needed to create, modify, repair, and improve them start in STEM education. However, this isn’t to say that K-12 students should just neglect non STEM-related specializations like art, language, communication, and the social sciences. As we previously discussed in our ‘5 Tips for Engaging Students in STEM’ post here on the Defined STEM blog, integration is key to making well-rounded K-12 graduates.
As important as STEM is, these four academic disciplines alone cannot create highly capable and flexible working professionals. It’s crucial to have a broad knowledge of the liberal arts as well as the technical sciences, especially early in children’s education. This gives students a much higher viewpoint with which to see the bigger picture, allowing them to be better problem solvers in whichever job or career they land in the future. Even if students are geared towards highly technical professions, liberal arts and social science knowledge will always come in handy. As any tech professional can tell you, specializing even in skills like software development and/or cyber security doesn’t mean that you can forego the humanities and social sciences. These can help children and professionals to not only develop strong analytical and people skills but also have a greater understanding of how the world works and technology’s place in it. To illustrate, the practicum for any computer science program at Maryville University culminates in the Cyber Fusion Center, a student-run, faculty-managed center that provides cybersecurity services to charities, non-profit organizations, schools, and even small businesses at zero cost. This allows future technical professionals to hone the skills and connections they need to actually find meaningful jobs with plenty of opportunities for growth.
Given the current state of the world, STEM education is more important now than ever. And it’s even more important to combine STEM with a broader range of knowledge in arts, communications, and social sciences. The earlier K-12 students can be taught about how these different specializations interact in real life, the better they’ll be prepared to face the non-academic world.