It’s no secret that science, technology, engineering and math are the fields of the future. STEM became everyone’s vision of the future once Neil Armstrong took that first step out onto the moon’s surface. And STEM is even more critical to our nation’s future today. The United States Department of Commerce estimates that jobs in STEM will grow 17 percent by 2018, which is 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs over the next decade.
Unfortunately, this incredible growth is outstripping the number of qualified people, meaning that by 2018, over 2.4 million jobs could remain unfulfilled in the U.S. Women and minority groups are particularly underrepresented in STEM fields. But National PTA has a plan to help solve for this challenge.
A WINNING Equation for Student Success
To meet the rapidly-growing demand for qualified STEM professionals and develop the next generation of leaders, we must help students and families build the necessary skills to pursue STEM degrees and career opportunities.
“We know— and decades of research proves—that family engagement is essential to children’s success. We also know that families play an important role in helping students navigate educational and career decisions and are influences of students’ perceptions of what’s possible for their futures,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “Shifting the conversation to include families as meaningful partners in STEM education and career pathways is critical to bridging the STEM gap.”
To address the gap and connect all families to the possibilities of STEM, National PTA created “STEM + Families,” an initiative supported by Founding and Presenting Sponsor Bayer along with Founding Sponsors Mathnasium and Microsoft. The goal is to increase access to STEM education and careers— especially among under-represented youth— by developing effective ways to inform and engage families in STEM experiences, while working with our partners to improve access to STEM school and community learning environments.
National PTA President Laura Bay said of STEM + Families, “The gap in the STEM pipeline is not a new problem, but intentionally engaging families is an essential new solution.”
It’s time to shift the conversation in STEM to include parents and families as important partners in STEM education and career pathways. We want to foster passion for science, technology, engineering and math by involving families in fun experiences together. STEM + Families will engage students, families and communities in opportunities to explore STEM possibilities.
You don’t need to be an engineer, doctor or scientist to support students’ exploration of STEM learning.
You can help support interest in STEM education by simply:
- Setting clear and high expectations of student performance
- Encouraging the creation of supportive Learning environments at home
- Asking questions that help to guide the exploration of courses students need to pursue STEM career pathways
- Inviting a STEM professional to talk about their career at school
- Taking the Pledge to become a STEM+ Families Champion at PTA.org/STEM
To learn more about the STEM + Families initiative, National PTA’s research around effective family engagement in STEM or more ways to support STEM education, visit PTA.org/STEM.
Corinne Canning is the Editorial and Marketing Specialist at National PTA.