The United States Should Lead in STEM Education

By Tim Wright

student in front of schoolThere was a time when our country was the world leader in technological innovation. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969, it represented a technological victory for the United States over the Soviet Union and served as a crucial step in humanity’s exploration of the Universe. During the space race, there was interest and dedication from students and scientists in technological advancement. Now, with the changing politics and new generation, students simply are not as interested in science, technology and math as they were in the past. Technological innovations and ingenuity are declining in America. Other countries are catching up, and many have surpassed America in all quantifiable areas. There are many reasons that this decline is detrimental.

Unemployment would decrease if the job seekers in our country took advantage of the vast opportunities in the areas of science and technology. According to America Desperately Needs more STEM Students. Here’s How to Get Them,” published in Forbes Magazine, 50 percent of the economic expansion in the U.S. is in the fields of science and engineering, yet only five percent of the workforce is employed in those fields. The result is a much smaller field of competition for science and engineering jobs, and a more competition for other jobs. If more high school graduates chose majors in science, engineering, technology and math, they may have an easier time finding a job after college.

Part of the problem is that the changing demographics in the country show a correlation with the decreasing interest in science and math among high school students. According to the Forbes article, right now, 43 percent of students are of non-white ethnicity. However, of the Bachelors degrees awarded in the science and math fields, only 15 percent are given to minorities. The fact of the matter is, our population is changing and as a country we are still figuring out how to handle the change. In order to maintain our status and rank in the world, we need to take action to ensure that the same quality of education and opportunities are awarded to minorities and women to address the lack of diversity in STEM.

According to the United States Department of Education, President Barack Obama is aware of the problem, and has set a goal of helping American students, “Move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math.” He has called on schools to recruit and train 100 thousand new STEM teachers. He formed the Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) to direct resources toward those goals, but ultimately it will be up to us. The government can only do so much to create interest in science and math and cannot tell us how to live our lives. Hopefully i-Trek and its mission to bridge the gap in STEM diversity is a step in the right direction.