Math, science education in spotlight
In the past few months, STEM, science, technology, engineering and math, has taken the spotlight not only in the classrooms, but in the media and even the White House.
In September, President Obama announced the launch of Change the Equation, an effort to dramatically improve STEM education. Change the Equation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM education in the U.S.
According to the White House, the U.S. is falling behind its foreign competitors in STEM subjects. According to one study, American 15 year olds ranked 21st in science and 25th in math, compared with other industrialized countries.
During his announcement, President Obama said, “We’re here for a simple reason: Everybody in this room understands that our nation’s success depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation. And all the CEOs who are here today understand that their company’s future depends on their ability to harness the creativity and dynamism and insight of a new generation.
“And that leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in science, technology, engineering and math.”
President Obama added, “What I’ve also said for a long time is that our success will not be attained by government alone. It depends on teachers and parents and students and the broader community. It depends on us restoring an insistence on excellence in our classrooms and from our children.
“And that’s why last year I challenged scientists and business leaders to think of creative ways to engage young people in math and science. And now they are answering the call.”
One of the organizations answering the call is the Girl Scouts. STEM is important to girls and their leadership development.
According to the National Science Foundation, women constitute 46 percent of the U.S. labor force, but only 22 percent of scientists and engineers. Although young girls are precocious learners, by fifth grade many girls shy away from math and science. Academic stereotypes and lack of encouragement for girls have caused fewer girls to take science or math classes than boys and to pursue higher education/careers in these fields.
Girl Scouts of West Central Florida is working to reverse the gender gap. Today, Girl Scouts of all ages can work toward badges, connect with female role models in STEM fields and explore careers through hands-on activities in STEM that may influence their career choices.
A website, www.gswcf.org/stem/, is available for teachers and parents to visit to find ideas on how to promote STEM to their students and children. On the site, teachers and parents will find sections specifically for them, with references to STEM activities that can be done in the classroom or at home, and links to supplemental websites.
Four things you can do today to promote STEM to the kids in your life:
- Encourage involvement early on in science, technology, engineering and math subjects.
- Supporting kids in basic ways offers a great foundation for their science success.
- Help children explore their dream job! Many websites offer information and practical tips about exciting jobs in engineering.
- Plan a visit to a science or technology museum.
The Girl Scouts of West Central Florida offers specialized training on youth issues and serves nearly 24,000 girls in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties. For information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate, visit www.gswcf.org or call 813-281-4475.